Eaton’s College Street

DIDJA KNOW? WELL, I NEVER! #41

College Park exterior (Eaton's College Street), 1930 Art Moderne gem, Yonge and College, Toronto.

College Park exterior (Eaton’s College Street), 1930 Art Moderne gem, Yonge and College, Toronto.

FIRST PIC: College Park, our understated (and, this being Toronto, under-appreciated) Art Moderne gem, known to the geezer generation as “Eaton’s College Street”, looks like this in 2014. But inside, on the 7th floor, was the Eaton Auditorium, and the Round Room, designed by Jacques Carlu in 1930; designed down to the china pattern and waitresses’ uniforms. Two words: Lalique fountain. Just let that sink in for a moment.

The tenants who owned the neglected structure in 1977 wanted to demolish the 7th floor in its entirety and replace it with OFFICE SPACE.  Luckily the Toronto Historical Board stepped in, and the 7th floor has been lovingly restored as “The Carlu”.  Although it’s now a privately-owned event space, you can visit, you can hire it for events, and at least it was preserved.  

As for the owners who actually considered demolishing a marble-inlaid architectural gem containing a Lalique fountain; an important piece of Toronto’s history that marked its coming of age; the masterpiece of a visionary Parisian designer and hundreds of dedicated artisans – not to mention the Eaton Auditorium, whose acoustics were so perfect that Glenn Gould made recordings there – and replacing it with orange-and-aqua industrial carpeting, soulless cubicles and fluorescent lighting:  Gentlemen, may all your sleep, every moment of it, from now till the day of your collective passing, be fitful.

Architect's rendering of the proposed Eaton's building, 1929.

Architect’s rendering of the proposed Eaton’s building, 1929.  The central portion of 38 storeys was never built – thanks, Great Depression.

SECOND PIC: But College Park as we know it is actually unfinished. This is what it was INTENDED to look like, before the Crash of 1929 wiped out the funding: A rival to the Empire State Building (or a precursor of the Pałac Kultury, aka the former KGB headquarters, in Warsaw, depending on your taste). Personally, I say hooray for the Crash of 1929.

All together now, studio audience: “Didja know…?”  “Well, I never…!”

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