Doors Open Toronto 2024: Best Buildings to See This Year

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Foy-Smith House, photo credit Max L'Amour
Foy-Smith House, photo credit Max L'Amour

Doors Open Toronto is an annual free event allowing the public to access buildings that are not usually open to the public or cost an admission fee. It’s a great way to be a tourist in your city. Even though I’ve lived here all my life, there are so many buildings I have never seen so it’s a great opportunity for someone like me to explore my city. Doors Open Toronto takes place over the weekend of Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26, 2024. Here are some of the most exciting buildings to see this year:

                  1. Massey College – Massey College was built from 1961 to 1963 by architectural firm Thompson, Berwick, Pratt & Partners, with Ronald Thom as the partner-in-charge. The design is clearly Arts and Crafts, with influences of Frank Lloyd Wright. The interior furnishings, pottery and silverware were created by Ron Thom. The college is home to one of only three Royal Chapels in Canada.
                    Massey College, 4 Devonshire Place M5S2E1, 416-978-2895
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024

                    The University Club of Toronto
                    The University Club of Toronto
                  2. The University Club of Toronto – The University Club was created in 1906 by a group of university graduates. They wanted a club that reflected their independent, entrepreneurial spirits. The building’s facade resembles the 18th-century Boodle’s club in London, England. The clubhouse features a second-storey Palladian window and delicate ornamentation inspired by Greco-Roman motifs. One reason to visit during Doors Open Toronto 2024 is to see their comprehensive private collection of Canadian art, including works from The Group of Seven.
                    The University Club of Toronto, 380 University Avenue M5G1R6
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  3. Dine Alone Records – Dine Alone Records is the home of Canadian artists City and Colour, Alexisonfire, Tokyo Police Club, EKKSTACY, Bedouin Soundclash and more. The indie label is located on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Laing Street in Leslieville. Dine Alone Records has hosted several live music events – I saw Sam Roberts Band perform here about 10 years ago. Fans can also shop for their favourite music and merchandise in the Dine Alone Store. The building is full of history from its beginnings in 2005 to its now indie and alternative repertoire.
                    Dine Alone Records, 864 Eastern Avenue, M4L1A3
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  4. Young Centre for the Performing Arts – Gooderham and Worts built this structure in 1888 for industrial use, and since 2006, the building has been used as the Young Centre for the Performing Arts and features performances from Soulpepper’s repertory season and George Brown College’s Theatre School.
                    Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, M5A 3C4, 416-866-8666
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  5. Steam Whistle Brewing – The historic Roundhouse will be open during Doors Open Toronto for tours. Learn about the railway history and unique features of the building, followed by its modern-day use for brewing and hospitality. The John Street Roundhouse is one of the best examples of railway roundhouses preserved in North America and has been skillfully restored. Be sure to take a walk on the catwalk to appreciate the enormity of the structure and the view of the turntable and rail lines outside. Enjoy a drink in the Tap Room, restaurant or patio after your tour – drinks not included in tour!
                    Address: 255 Bremner Blvd. M5V3M9, 416-362-2337
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  6. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts – Built in 1967 as Toronto’s centennial project, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts opened its doors in 1970. Since then, the centre has provided cultural, artistic and public events. In 2015, Toronto’s City Council approved the consolidation of Meridian Hall (formerly Sony Centre for the Performing Arts), St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, and Meridian Arts Centre (formerly Toronto Centre for the Arts) into one new organization under the direction of a City-appointed board called TO Live.
                    St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front St. E. M5E1B4, 416-368-6161
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, 2024
                  7. Todmorden Mills – Located in the gorgeous Don River Valley, Todmorden Mills encompasses an Indigenous waterway, an industrial hub, and a modern arts and theatre centre. The site is home to a collection of 19th-century industrial and domestic buildings, a paper mill that operates as the Papermill Theatre and Gallery, a former brewery, two restored period homes and a Wildflower Preserve. Todmorden Mills is a testament to the working people who made the lumber, beer, flour, and bricks that built Toronto.
                    Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Rd. M4K2B9, 416-396-2819
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  8. Foy-Smith House, photo credit Max L'Amour
                    Foy-Smith House, photo credit Max L’Amour

                    Foy-Smith House – Foy Smith House is a Victorian mansion with heritage-designated interiors: a grand carved staircase, stained-glass windows, etched transoms, plasterwork medallions and elegant fireplace mantels. Tucked behind the entrance are the servants’ stairs, reminding visitors of previous class divisions. The house was built at the edge of one of Toronto’s hidden rivers, Moss Park Creek, so Indigenous people would have canoed to where the building now stands to bury their dead at the Sandhill Cemetery near Yonge and Bloor. You’ll find the work of local artists and Victorian-style furniture on display at Foy-Smith House.

                    Foy-Smith House, 92 Isabella Street, M4Y 1N4, 416-946-3492
                    Days Open: Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26, 2024
                  9. Jarvis Street Baptist Church – Jarvis Street Baptist Church was designed in the Gothic Revival style by Langley & Burke architectural firm. It was one of the first churches in Canada to be built with an amphitheatre. The ground-floor seating is grouped in a semicircle, while the gallery above is shaped like a horseshoe. The ceiling has a rosette-shaped stained-glass skylight. The building contains several tall columns and different capitals that are based on the Corinthian order. The main entrance is set under a tower with a copper spire. Gargoyles are seen along the entrance doors, and rippled arches are engraved in the building.
                    Jarvis Street Baptist Church, 130 Gerrard St. E. M5A3T4, 416-925-3261
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  10. Metropolitan United Church – Catch a recital of Met’s 54-bell carillon on the lawn before entering through the great south doors where you can admire the rich woodwork in the narthex. Explore the “hidden histories” and the ornate stained-glass windows. Watch a presentation of Norval Morrisseau’s “Man Changing into Thunderbird.” Morisseau created the six-panel masterpiece during his time in Toronto. Explore the Northern Annex, which was restored in 2021 and which now hosts community spaces, offices and historical artifacts. Learn more through a guided tour, an organ demonstration, the visual history display and carillon and band performances.
                    Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen Street East, M5C 2Z3, 416-363-0331
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  11. TIFF Lightbox – TIFF Lightbox is a five-storey podium of multi-use space, including a three-storey public atrium, five cinemas, two galleries, three learning studios, two dining spaces and the Film Reference Library. Since 2010, it has been the permanent home of the Toronto International Film Festival as well as year-round educational, festival and new-release programming. The reference library promotes Canadian and international film scholarship by collecting, preserving and providing access to film-related reference and archival resources, as well as film prints. Search the library catalogue online at tiff.net/library.
                    TIFF Lightbox, 350 King St. W. M5V3X5
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024
                  12. Stackt Market – Built entirely out of shipping containers, Stackt Market is a mix of shops, art installations, a brewery, container murals and public spaces. The cultural marketplace won Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award. The site features over 10,000 square feet of land in the Front and Bathurst neighbourhood that has been transformed into a curated market.
                    Stackt Market, 28 Bathurst St. M5V 0R4
                    Days Open: Saturday May 25, Sunday May 26, 2024

             

    I hope you have a great time at Doors Open Toronto 2024 and get a chance to tour buildings that are not normally open to the public. Let me know in the comment section which buildings you are planning to see. You may be interested in reading, “Things to Do May Long Weekend in Toronto 2024“.

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