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Toronto Mechanics' Institute, Cornerstone laid 17 April 1854

Toronto Mechanics' Institute neo-classical exterior, n.d. (before 1884)

The York Mechanics' Institute was established in 1830. The architectural firm of Cumberland & Storm planned and supervised construction of a large, handsome building on the corner of Church and Adelaide Streets between 1854 and 1861. The reference library and two reading rooms were located on the main floor and decorated with oak. The music hall was located on the second floor and was reached by an entrance from Adelaide Street. When the institute became a free public library in 1883, this hall became the main reading room and a small addition was made to the back of the building to accommodate more volumes in the new stack room.

This building served as Toronto's central public library until 1909 and continued as a downtown branch library until January 1927. The building was demolished in 1949.

Size: 104 ft. x 80 ft.

Cost: approximately $50,000

Source: Archives of Ontario, S-1178

Another view, 1924 (Source: National Archives of Canada, PA-86436, dated 8 February 1924)

Page created on 20 May 1997
Last modified on

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