What a lot of people don’t know is that Toronto’s Flatiron Building preceded New York’s famous building by more than 10 years – take that NYC. In 1891, the Gooderham family (of the Gooderham & Worts distillery ) commissioned architect David Roberts to build a flashy office at a cost of $18,000. The Gothic Romanesque structure was built at the intersection of Front, Wellington, and Church Streets on a triangular piece of land.
The 5 story red brick building was one of the grandest of its time, with 12 foot ceilings, brass fittings, and the very first manually operated Otis elevator in Toronto (which is still staffed to this day). A vault was also built to hold the Gooderham fortune and a tunnel was dug between the building and the bank across the street (which Gooderham also owned) saving them from having to walk outside with large amounts of cash. Today a handy little pub (The Flatiron and Firkin) now sits in the basement.
On the back of the building is a mural created by Canadian artist Derek Besant. It’s a mirror image of the Perkins Building located directly across the street creating the ‘trompe l’oeil effect’ (trick of the eye) which creates an optical illusion that the objects shown really exist.
In 1975, the Flatiron building was declared a historic site under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1975. In December 2011, the building was sold for a bargain $15 million.
Flatiron Building, 49 Wellington St E, M5E 1C9