Red brick heritage Temple Baptist Church beside integrated new 4-storey red brick residential lofts.

Sunday School Lofts

Located at the corner of Danforth and Dewhurst, Sunday School Lofts carefully integrates a new four-storey 32-unit residence with the historic Temple Baptist Church built in 1925. The heritage piece was instrumental in guiding the design for the new residential addition. As a result, the façade continues to stand prominent and at the forefront of the property. Giaimo worked closely with GRID Developments and COMN Architects to carefully conserve and restore the façade though construction, as well as develop a heritage interpretation plan. 

Client

GRID Developments

Location

14 Dewhurst, Toronto, Canada

Start Date

2016

Completion Date

2021

Status

Construction

Type

Residential
Conservation/Restoration

Team

COMN – Lead Architect
Giaimo – Heritage Architect

ERA – Heritage Approvals

Photography

Dan Chan

Process

Brick temple church facade restored with three arched stained glass windows.

The restoration of the heritage building was critical to the project’s success, and maintaining this robust historic piece ensured its reinsertion into the neighbourhood, as it informed and guided the larger property’s revitalization. The conservation approach includes rehabilitating the east façade of the church  with partial north and south returns while integrating a new residential building. It also included an interpretation plan and lighting plan that commemorates the history and cultural heritage value of the site to future residents and visitors. Following the demolition of the back of the church and the shoring up of its character-filled front, the site was prepped for the start of work on a concrete foundation and the first areas of steel installation for the new building’s structural skeleton. A number of elements were removed, salvaged, and reused, including existing windows, brick, and stain glass, as well as lintel for reuse.

Exterior of a building under construction
View of greenery from arched window frame

Heritage

Originally built in 1925, this designated heritage building housed the Temple Baptist Church until the parish relocated and the building was sold in 2013. After standing empty for a few years, the building was bought by GRID Developments. From exploring the potential for this site in Toronto’s Greektown, GRID initiated a new project which involved façade restoration and conservation of the historic Church integrated into a new 4-storey residential boutique condo development with 32 units.

Arched window frames under construction

The thoughtful design respects the building’s history, maintaining the charm and simplicity of the original Georgian Classical design. Elegant Credit Valley stone highlights the building’s clean lines and symmetrical, rectangular shape. Modern elements compliment the historic architecture in a contemporary, pleasing combination.

Arched window frame boarded in plywood

Challenge

This project is indicative of many Toronto challenges: how can we provide increased density and housing while conserving heritage. The process focused on determining the appropriate architectural approach for the new program within the heritage piece. However, churches are some of the most difficult building types to rehabilitate and convert. Conventional church interiors do not make for ideal residential spaces. In this case, heritage acted as a guide for the addition and the previous building form served as a template in determining the appropriate contextual response. This is a long story of accommodation and acceptance, where the current residential building lends itself to what is now a 100 year plus narrative: The 1913 church first accepted the 1925 addition, and now the 2021 addition accommodates the 1925 piece. In both cases, the 1925 addition maintains its prominence, initially when it added on to the 1913 building and now in 2021 where the addition provides a non intrusive and complementary addition.

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