The Gladstone Hotel

The Gladstone hotel has evolved over the years since construction to become one of Queen Street West’s most innovative cultural focal points. In 1889 George Miller watched his design of the Gladstone House come to completion. Located on 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario Canada this area of the city has gone through major changes over the decades. The hotel at the time towered over the existing building but with rising condominiums it is beginning to look smaller in context. Originally designed as a trendy accommodation for those travelling on three major railways at the time (The Canadian Pacific Railway, Grand Trunk, and The Canadian National Railway) the hotel still remains a luxurious hostelry but has now been completed with the renovated Gladstone Cafe, Melody Bar, and one of a kind hotel rooms. In 1889 a building permit was granted to build the Gladstone Hotel by the government for thirty thousand dollars. The Gladstone hotel was built of red brick cladding, wooden window frames, iron banisters, and a concrete base. In 1930 the large worn cupola on top of the hotels tower had to be removed due to aging. In 1960 the Gardiner Expressway was rerouted caused the initial fall from grace for the Parkdale. However in 1975 when the Parkdale Train Station closed the area became isolated and ultimately left the Gladstone hotel in a state of hopeless decline. Fortunately for this heritage building it was bought by a group of developers (The Tippins and Zeidlers) that had the idea to turn this decrepit hotel into a communal and artistic node in 2000. Arguments regarding how to approach the restoration project began between the two families resulting in the Zeidlers ownership of the hotel. In 2002 the Zeidler family purchased the building in hopes to jumpstart the community. Once Margie Zeidler bought the building she offered her sister the opportunity to manage the Hotel. The Zeidler Partnership and Eberhard Zeidler were in charge of the renovation, or rather retrofit, of the building. Eberhard Zeidler was an architect who helped his daughter Christina fulfill her envision of what the Gladstone Hotel could be. The Zeidler family had a special connection with the building due to the fact that they were not only the designers and renovators but also the owners as well. Their personal philosophy while redesigning the hotel rooms was to avoid making the all too common “standard condo”. They thought it best to bring in other community members views and ideas on how each room should be conceived. Family friend, Jane Jacobs, seemed to have had an influence on their philosophy in regards to how the building and community should function. The ideal situation would have the building and its surroundings fit naturally with one another. During the renovation process there were certain conflicts with staff members and elderly residents in regards to where they would go after the improvements were finished. The Zeidler family took special care and interest to ensure that the residents were well looked after and had homes after the renovation. However, inhabitants were not the only problem during the renovation. For years the building had been tossed from owner to owner each patching up the Gladstone, however major structural issues were often looked over. When trades workers investigated the ceilings and floors during the recent renovation, they found broken support beams and instances of missing joists or studs. These issues now had to be fixed without ruining other portions of the building. The solution was to bring in multiple steel reinforcements from 14 to 18 feet in length. In addition to structural failure window sills had rotted and worn over time, forcing renovators to meticulously replace northern and eastern windows while removing the rotted wooden frame from southern and western facades. Despite the encountered problems the results of the Zeidler’s unique approach to designing the building evolved into a one of a kind hotel experience. Each room was designed by local artist(s) who approached the project in a different manner. During the entire renovation process the lower level remained open to the community and still functioned as a local hangout. A green roof has been added to the building for insulation and to keep up with the environmental movement. In December 2005 the hotel welcomed the public back into the hotel and embraced the changes it hoped to install on the surrounding community.


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