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Visiting the Milburn Building, 47-55 Colborne Street, Toronto, Ontario: Romanesque Revival structure by E J Lennox

Updated on January 9, 2013
Provincial flag of Ontario
Provincial flag of Ontario | Source
The Milburn Building, 47-55 Colborne Street, Toronto, Ontario
The Milburn Building, 47-55 Colborne Street, Toronto, Ontario | Source
The Milburn Building, 47-55 Colborne Street, Toronto, Ontario
The Milburn Building, 47-55 Colborne Street, Toronto, Ontario | Source
Map location of Toronto, Ontario
Map location of Toronto, Ontario | Source

A veritable riot of Syrian arches

As a Romanesque Revival structure, dating from 1886, this fine building exhibits in abundance the sort of feature that one comes to expect from this remarkable, late 19th century architectural trend. Its Colborne Street frontage is a veritable, celebratory riot of Syrian arches (some of the lower arches are elliptical rather than Syrian) and rustication: mainly executed in red brick to vivid effect. In places, stone alternates red brick, to a pleasing, patterned effect.

The Milburn Building's architect was the distinguished Edward John Lennox (1854-1933)(1), no stranger to Romanesque Revival. The building is named for a Toronto merchant who needed to expand warehousing facilities (2). Today, the building has attracted prime restaurant and other businesses, and is regarded as a desirable address.

The Street is named for John Colborne, 1st Baron Seaton (1778-1863), who served as Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada from 1828 to 1836.

Anyway, I find the all those arches, Syrian and elliptical, quite amazing. Blink, and it is as if one were standing for a moment in front of the Roman-era Porta Nigra, in Trier, Germany, or before Anca Petrescu's (3) Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest.

The Milburn Building is located on the south side of Colborne Street ( no.s 47-55), Toronto, Ontario. Its Downtown location makes it easily accessible on foot.

January 9, 2013


(1) Among many other works, Architect Lennox was responsible for Old City Hall and Casa Loma, in Toronto.

(2) While the present day sees emphasis on sustainable civil engineering, yet, years hence, one wonders how many contemporary buildings intended simply as warehouses will become desirable addresses on account of their distinguished architectural merits.

(3) Anca Petrescu (1949-) is one of the world's leading architectural proponents of arches. She included this engaging feature on different elevations of the Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest; from photographs of the building I counted dozens of arches before giving up!

Also worth seeing

In the Downtown Toronto area, notable, historic buildings include E J Lennox's Old City Hall; the Legislative Assembly of Ontario building; St Michael's Cathedral; St James's Cathedral; Osgoode Hall; Campbell House; the United Metropolitan Church; and many others.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available; visitors to Downtown Toronto will find many sights to be easily walkable. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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