West End Walks. 178 Pine Street

A gorgeous little Italian Villa on one of the the West End’s service streets.

Originally a stable for the Fred Richards house on Vaughan Street. Or that’s what the 1924 tax notes say. The notes also give an age of 35 years. I have issues/questions about that.

Sketch of the Fred Richards house by John Calvin Stevens. From John Calvin Stevens domestic architecture 1890-1930 by Earle Shettleworth, Jr & John Calvin Stevens II. Harp Publications 1990

The sketch above shows a very small garage that is stylistically fitting to the Richards house.  The Italian Villa style of our subject is not in keeping with the house nor is it a style I know of Stevens ever using. Also, the period image below, taken from the same publication, does not show the garage behind the house.

Some digging into the deed history brings a bit of clarity to the question. The 1924 tax records show the owner of the property as Margaret Morrill. Morrill did in fact purchase the house and stable from Fred Richards estate in 1919. The stable is listed on the deed as an “encroachment” on the commonly owned sevice street. The documents also say the encroachment has “existed since 1901”. This establishes a date for the building and explains why the service road in question jogs around our subject. It also raises a couple of questions.

1. Why, after working with Stevens a mere 8 years previous to design the home, did Richards go somewhere else to have the stable designed? No listing of the firms work includes the structure although there are records of the firm doing alterations when the Morrills purchased the property.

2. Why did it get built in the common space? Was it intentional or a mistake?

I am, at this time, unable to answer either question.

Oh what a structure. Embellished with balconies, arched windows, quoins and other elements, it is rich with texture and detail. The Pine Street facade has the quoins colored a red just slightly lighter than the brick. This softens the details to some degree. The opposite facade celebrates these details by showing them in a buff or tan color which works to emphasise them.

When viewed with some magnification, the image above does not seem to show the balcony on the long side. The ring hanging from the beam above the balcony would indicate this was originally an access way for straw, grain and other supplies needed for horses. The modest iron rail probably added at the time the building was converted. I personally find the color and proportions of the doors to be fabulous. Oh to stand there in the morning with coffee.

The building was converted to condominiums in 1984. Prior to 1984 the few transfers of the property that happened listed the ‘encroachment’ with the house. There are 3 units.
Unit #1 is 935 square feet all on the first level.
Unit #2 is 1545 square feet all on the first level
Unit #3 is 1327 square feet all on the second level

Today, the building is nestled into a quiet corner of the city. Another stable given a new, reinvigorated, lease on life.

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