Spadina House aka Spadina Museum is a historic manor on Spadina Road in Toronto.
The first house constructed on the site was built in 1818 by Dr. William Warren Baldwin. He named his 200-acre property and estate Spadina, which derived from the
[2-Side view] native word espadinong, which translates as "hill" or "sudden rise of land". Baldwin himself designed the two storey wood frame house. The house burnt down in 1835, and owing to the three mile (5 km) trek from the estate into York, he moved to a house on Front Street. He built a smaller country estate on the property in 1836.
James Austin, Toronto businessman and financier, founder of the Dominion Bank and president of Consumers Gas, purchased 80 acres of an original 200 acre farm lot at auction in 1866, from the Baldwin family. He built a two-storey Victorian farmhouse with a view of the lake from its perch on the Davenport ridge. To the north up to St. Clair were farm fields.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth century the area was the wealthiest in Toronto, with a number of Toronto's leading families having large estates. Austin subdivided and sold off the land west of Spadina Road in 1889, which amounted to 40 acres. In 1892, James Austin turned over the house, and 20 acres of the property to his son, Albert William Austin.
The estate was enlarged and remodelled by Albert Austin between 1898 and 1913, reflecting the changing times and tastes of the Austin family over three generations. He added a third floor in 1912, a stone garage/chauffeur's quarters and a greenhouse, where he could indulge his interest in horticulture. The historic house illustrates the evolution of styles from mid-Victorian to 1930s Colonial Revival and includes items from both the Arts and Crafts and Aesthetic Movements, as well as items in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. The rooms contain furniture purchased by the family, much of it made in Toronto.
The influence of new technologies such as gas lighting, central heating, electricity and the telephone can be seen here.
The life of the domestic staff is represented in the working kitchen and pantries.
 The most visible reminders of the original house are the former front door (photo), sidelights and fanlight, which now form the back entrance.
He sold much of the property to the City of Toronto in 1913 for the construction of the St. Clair Reservoir. Albert Austin died in 1933.
The last member of the family to live in the house was Anna Kathleen Thompson, a daughter of Albert Austin, who lived there from 1942 until 1982. The aged house had outdated wiring and needed a thorough overhaul; that would have been far more expensive than rebuilding it. While the house could have been sold to private interests such as the Keg Restaurant, the family decided instead to donate the house and all of its furnishings to the city.
In 1984 it opened as a museum, jointly operated by the city and the Ontario Heritage Foundation. The museum is well-known for its gardens. The family still keeps some links with the house and celebrations such as weddings are held there.
[12-Produce from garden on sale at market]
The Spadina House was awarded the Peggi Armstrong Public Archaeology Award in 2004; and the Ontario Museum Association Award of Merit in conjunction with Dawn Roach Bowen for their Black History Month programme ‘Meet Mrs. Pipkin’ in 2002. Mrs. Pipkin was a laundress at the Spadina house in the 1860s, where she came after escaping slavery in the United States.
Research: Toronto.ca, wikipedia
Photo Credits: -Judley CC=nc-sa-flickr, -suzannelong CC=sa-flickr.
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