Creating more space within a heritage building can be tricky, especially if plans outlining previous changes are unavailable. When the Canadian Music Centre wanted to open up its main floor for a performance space and lounge, architects worked around obstacles like central-air ducts installed over the course of the former Victorian home’s history.
From its early days, 20 St Joseph St. provided a support centre for the arts. It was built in 1892 by William J. Hill, a contractor who served as a city councillor throughout the Naughty Nineties. Around 1894, it became the home of John S. Williams, who rose through the ranks of the tobacco industry to become chief inspector for Imperial Tobacco. According to a friend, Williams “was not a man who ever desired to be wealthy, and he felt that a generous portion of each year’s income should be spent on the arts.” Williams filled the walls and cupboard shelves with fine art, some of which was exhibited in European galleries. While the heart of his collection was Dutch School, Williams championed young Canadian artists through encouragement, organizing exhibitions, and enticing his wealthier friends to buy their work.
|Toronto Star, April 8, 1921.|
|Floyd Chalmers. Photo taken for the Telegram in 1969. Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University, Toronto Telegram fonds, F0433.|
|Renovations to 20 St. Joseph Street, circa 1984. Image courtesy Canadian Music Centre.|
|Toronto Star, June 20, 1984. Click on image for larger version.|
Additional material from the April 9, 1921 edition of the Globe, the June 23, 1984 edition of the Globe and Mail, and the April 8, 1921, April 24, 1931, and June 26, 1984 editions of the Toronto Star.