The Morrish Store, an update.
Firstly, a very definite NO, to the question about the demolition of this building. On the contrary, the old Morrish Store is in the process of being restored to its original state, by the City of Toronto. In order to answer the question, I contacted Terry Nicholson of Toronto's Department of Culture, who sent the following information through Councillor Moeser's office:
This was the finest store in the district when it was built in 1890 and owned by William J. Morrish. The store serviced a big part of east Scarborough and parts of Pickering until it closed in 1967. In the late 1990's, Rick Schofield, Scarborough's archivist and chairman of the local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee, local community associations and Councillor Moeser spearheaded the successful acquisition of the property by the City, to ensure that this vital area landmark received the restoration that it deserved. The ongoing restoration is in several phases:
Phase I - This phase involved the removal of all designated substances (lead paint, etc...), a general cleanup of the entire property - inside & out - and servicing of the property to enable heating. This phase was completed last year (2002). The proposed new station is to be 40-42,000 square feet, excluding the mechanical and electrical equipment space. The site has room for extending the building in future, if required.
Phase II - This phase involves the securing of all of the ground floor and basement entry points to keep unwanted visitors out as well as a number of repairs deemed by the architect to be critical to maintaining the integrity of the structure (roof repairs, minor brickwork, etc...). This phase is currently underway and should be completed shortly. and occupation is expected by August 2004.
Phase III - This phase, scheduled to this summer (2002), will involve structural repairs, bringing the building up to current code, and restoring some of the interior finishes.
The restoration is being done with constant consultation with Rick Schofield, as well as the President of the Highland Creek Community Association. (The property is within the HCCA area.) Once complete, the building will serve as the new archive for the Historical Society, and as home base for the HCCA. The store area will become a display area for the Historical Society, and will be open to the public. Other community uses are also being considered and will be incorporated into the plans by the architect.
The funding necessary to continue the restoration is in the 2003 budget, and a hard fight is expected to keep it there. The Historical Society is applying for Provincial grants to assist with some of the larger-scale restoration work such as a meticulous restoration of the front veranda, and removal of the western extension, which was added long after the original construction. Public fundraising will probably be necessary to bridge the final gap.
The high level of craftsmanship in the woodwork interior is impressive, to say the least. The Historical Society has the original store counter that will be re-installed in the public area. It is likely that the elevator, one of only a few hand-operated ones left in the entire Province, will be glassed-in so that the public can see it safely.
With thanks to Terry Nicholson - City of Toronto, and Councillor Ron Moeser's office.