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History and Architectural of Economics Department Building

The house and coach house at 150 St. George Street were completed in 1889 for William Crowther, a Toronto merchant who occupied the site until 1926. The architect is unknown. The architecture is Victorian, with features of Queen Anne Revival styling. The property was acquired in 1927 by the China Inland Mission, an international organization formed in the mid 19th century to spread Christianity throughout China. The CIM added a structure to the back of the house connecting it to the coach house on the second floor, with the driveway passing underneath.

While the CIM owned the house the principal rooms on the first floor, from front to rear were:

  • A large drawing room with a fireplace and wood mantle on the south wall, radiators enclosed by cast iron grillwork and covered with marble, a door on the south side opening onto a side porch, and pocket doors to the front hall and to:
  • A sitting room with a piano and a fireplace on the west wall and high doors opening onto:
  • The dining room with a bay window on the south and a fireplace on the west wall. The floor still contains a patched hole for the wires for a buzzer to the kitchen.
  • Next was a small butlers pantry with dishes and a doorway into:
  • The kitchen, with a restaurant-size gas stove on the west wall, vented to the chimney.
  • Beyond the kitchen, in the 1927 addition, was a pantry where the cook was said to rest.
  • The last room was the box room where the suitcases and trunks of visiting missionaries were delivered and stored. This room had a trap door and stairs to a storage room in the basement.

The front hall had a fireplace on the north wall with a brass rail around the hearth and an unusual stained glass window directly over the fireplace. A second stained glass window was just behind the stairs in front of the washroom and a third was on the landing before the second floor. All three windows were lost when the Canadian Medical Association purchased and renovated the building.

The CIM used the largest room in the second floor rear of the coach house as a boardroom and in 2005 the dumbwaiter serving that room was still visible. On the first floor of the coach house was a meeting room where services were held. The coach house was apparently always used for staff. Vehicles were parked in a shed along the lane to the south of the coach house.

The Canadian Medical Association purchased the site in 1955 as the location of "CMA House". Five years later, the south wing was completed in the Georgian Revival style according to the designs of the Toronto architectural firm of Allward and Gouinlock. It has a flat roof with a parapet and dentilled cornice. The University of Toronto began leasing the property in the 1960s when the CMA relocated to Ottawa. It was first used for the Centre for Urban and Community Studies and then also for the Institute for Policy Analysis. In 1982 both of them moved out and the Economics Department moved in, following the division of the Department of Political Economy into three parts. The drawing room became the front conference room; the sitting room was occupied by administrative staff; the dining room became the Chairs office, and the kitchen became the business officers office. The "box room" was used for storage and then for cubicles for emeritus faculty.

The original front doors were removed and stored because they did not meet the fire code.  When the Centre for Urban and Community Studies moved out, they had the doors mounted in the corridor of their new premises.  CUCS then renovated and refinished the doors which now serve as the entry doors to the CUCS offices on the fourth floor of the building at 455 Spadina at College.  Follow this link for a picture of the doors.

With input from Heritage Preservation Services, City of Toronto, December, 2003, and information supplied by Ms. Maybeth Henderson, a resident of the house when it was owned by the CIM.