Location: Toronto, ON Architects:
George & MoorhouseDate of completion:
Hon. Michael Coteau, MPP (Don Valley East)
Tucked away amongst the leafy streets of North York, surrounded by suburban residences and 1970s high-rise towers, is an English-style country home that brings together architecture, landscape architecture and interior design to create the perfect setting for celebration. We are talking of course of Graydon Hall Manor, the former residence of financier Rupert Bain and now one of Toronto’s unique event spaces.
The manor was built as the home of Canadian financier Rupert Bain, a Saskatchewan-born businessman who made his fortune investing in a wide range of companies, including the lucrative Pickle Crow gold mine in Northwest Ontario. A passionate sports fan, Bain envisioned his manor as a “sportsman’s paradise” – a place designed as much for living as for play, with a swimming pool, tennis courts, 9-hole golf course, and horse stable. To design and build this vision Bain hired the services of a truly interdisciplinary team including Toronto architectural firm George & Moorhouse, as well as the landscape architecture practice of Dunington-Grub & Stenson, interior designer R. Marcum Slimon, and golf-course designer George Cumming.
Entrance to Graydon Hall Manor, Photo Credit: Ryan Falkenberg
The 29-room manor was designed to recall the traditional English country-house and utilizes formal Georgian architectural language. The house, along with the terraces, garden walls, and auxiliary buildings are finished with multi-coloured fieldstone – a local Ontario material – and accented with Indiana limestone trims.
Pump House and Grounds, Photo Courtesy of Graydon Hall Manor
The gardens, designed by one of Ontario’s earliest landscape architecture practices Dunnington-Grubb & Stenson, are organized as a series of compartments that become more informal as they radiate off the formal allee into the surrounding landscape. Many of these compartments feature recreational activities instead of the aesthetic qualities of the traditional country manor.
Architectural Model of Graydon House and grounds. Model Maker: W. W. Weeks. Published in Canadian Homes and Gardens, May 1937
While the manor’s architecture and gardens are each noteworthy for their own merits, it is their thoughtful relationship – including careful consideration for solar exposure and wind patterns - that make Graydon Hall Manor so special. The manor and gardens are designed to make best use of solar orientation; the low fountain court and allee on the south allow the low warming winter sun into the home which is oriented east to west in order to increase solar exposure. To the north of the property is a grouping of evergreens - yews, pyramidal cedars, juniper and spruce – which protect the manor’s forecourt from the cold northwestern winds. To increase privacy and reduce the monotony of the relatively flat landscape, 15 foot tall artificial hills were created along the northern edge of the property.
Back of the Manor, Photo Courtesy of Graydon Hall Manor
After Bain’s death, much of the manor’s prized landscapes were sold to developers and transformed into apartment buildings and suburban housing. Fortunately, the manor and part of the formal gardens have survived to this day, and since 2000 the manor has once again opened its doors to celebration as a boutique meeting and event venue
– a fitting reuse for a building once considered the perfect setting for high society balls.
This post forms part of our World Architecture Day Queen’s Park Picks 2016 series in which we asked Ontario’s Members of Provincial Parliament to nominate a prominent building, past or present, in their riding for a chance to learn more about it. Check out the rest of the series to learn more about Ontario’s great architecture.