Old School Doors – Series 1

Older schools have “old school” doors that are much more interesting than newer doors. They were designed to last, and they look good too. Here are a few examples of doors at schools in Toronto and Australia, my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors this week.

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Humberside Collegiate Institute, Toronto
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ALPHA Alternative School (formerly Brant Street School), Toronto
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Annette Street School, Toronto
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Bowral Public School, Bowral, NSW, Australia

Doors Open Toronto – Part 1

After a hiatus of several weeks, I am back to blogging on doors. My previous posts on doors have used images taken from my travels in other countries. This time, I thought it would be a good idea to keep closer to home in Toronto. I have only lived in Toronto for the past three years, so there is still much for me to discover in this city.

A perfect opportunity presented itself with the 18th annual Doors Open Toronto event, hosted by the City of Toronto. In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, there were 150 buildings open for public viewing across the City on the May 27-28 weekend.

The curatorial theme – Fifteen Decades of Canadian Architecture – was intended to highlight the evolution of Canadian architecture. I used this opportunity to focus on several of the older buildings in downtown Toronto, and discover some of their features.

In keeping with Norm’s Thursday Doors blog theme, I have focused on the doors at some places of worship in Part 1.

St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church was built in the 1890’s and was originally named Holy Blossom Temple. It served as a synagogue for the first 40 years, before it was acquired by the Parish of St. George. The church is a good example of Byzantine religious architecture.

The tympanum (the decorative half-circle space over the entrance) originally had Hebraic lettering. A mosaic of St. George and the dragon was incorporated after the building became a Greek Orthodox church.

There are many variations on the myth of St. George. Many of these myths – involving St. George and the slaying of a dragon – evolved in medieval times. St. George, with the white shield and the red cross, representing good, and the dragon representing evil. Earlier stories of St. George still had something to do with Christianity, but nothing to do with dragons.

The church doors were open for viewing of the interior, but interior photos were not permitted; however, they did have a book of photos available for sale.

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St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

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Doors open at St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church

St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica was built in the 1840’s and preceded Canada’s confederation. During this decade, there was an influx of Irish emigrants to Toronto, escaping the Great Famine, and contributing to a doubling of the number of Catholics in the Diocese of Toronto. The church was designed in the gothic style and was just recently refurbished. The Archdiocese of Toronto is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.

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St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica

St. Michael’s Choir School originally opened in a single room in the diocesan office building next to the basilica in 1937. It reopened in a new location across the street in 1950. Although it is a newer building, the front door reflects some of the gothic elements of the past.

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St. Michael’s Choir School

The Cathedral Church of St. James was opened a few years later in 1853, and it is also an example of Gothic Revival architecture. The main entrance is quite impressive, while the side door is  still quite an elaborate mini-version of the front entry.

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Doors open at the Cathedral Church of St. James
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Side entry to the Cathedral Church of St. James

The Church of the Holy Trinity is tucked away on one side of the Eaton Centre, which was forced to be built around the existing church. The church was opened in 1847 and was dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity was associated with the “Catholic Revival” in the Church of England, which implied a return to Medieval art and a renewed sense of social responsibility.

The church congregation has been a lead in fostering social diversity in Toronto, and is considered to be a home for the LGBTQ community.

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The Church of the Holy Trinity

First Evangelical Lutheran Church was not on the Doors Open Toronto list of buildings, so the doors were not open. I wonder what is behind the green doors?

“There’s an old piano
And they play it hot behind the green door
Don’t know what they’re doing
But they laugh a lot behind the green door
Wish they’d let me in so I could find out
What’s behind the green door”

Lyrics from The Green Door, Jim Lowe, 1956

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First Evangelical Lutheran Church

 

A visit to Fort George

Over 200 years ago, there was a war between England and the United States in British North America – later to become Canada. The Niagara peninsula was one of the regional battlegrounds of the War of 1812, and Fort George was occupied by the Americans for several months in 1813.

Fort George is now a National Historic Site that is managed by Parks Canada. The site is open to visitors daily, and there is an active interpretive program. The 41st Regiment Fife and Drum Corps parades around the grounds of the fort, and participates in various ceremonies, such as the morning flag raising ceremony. The regiment recruits young band members who learn how to play and perform military music during the summer months.

The following are a few images taken during a visit earlier this year, with some “vintage” treatments.

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young cadets on parade
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flag raising prelude
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flag raising ceremony
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officers’ mess composite

Sun and Shadows

All of the images in this series are of public spaces located inside buildings. Two of these buildings are located in Australia, where the sun is always prevalent. The sun, shining through glazed windows, leaves its imprint on the walls and floors. The structural system of the walls and glazing is revealed through the shadows that are cast by the sun.

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Harbourfront lobby, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
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Atrium, Gordon Place Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
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Main entry, University of Toronto Pharmacy Building, Toronto, Ontario

Darker Tones

I have recently been experimenting with darker tones in black and white photographs. Using images that were shot in broad daylight, I have been processing them with masks and gradients to darken parts of the image. These three images are examples from this processing.

The Rock of Cashel is a popular tourist attraction in Ireland. The proximity of gravestones and the cloudy sky add to the sinister and moody look of the image.

The RC Harris Water Treatment Plant is located in the Beaches area of east Toronto. It is a majestic art deco building that looks much more impressive than its purpose – to process domestic drinking water from nearby Lake Ontario. Water purification is a basic human need, so, perhaps, the “darker” treatment is not in keeping with its altruistic public health goals.

The exterior fire escape is attached to an office building in Victoria. External fire escapes are much more prevalent in other cities, but this is a good example of a simple geometric facade with the fire escape and its shadow dominating one end of the building. Applying a gradient adds some interest to an otherwise monochromatic wall.

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The Rock of Cashel
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water treatment plant
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fire escape

Small Buildings – Series 2

These three buildings are closer to home – they are all located in Canada.

Customs House is an historic building prominently located on Wharf Street in downtown Victoria. It was built in the 1870’s – which is very old for anywhere in Western Canada. The pink exterior blends in nicely with the pink cherry blossoms when they arrive in the spring.

The lighthouse from Prince Edward Island is one of many similar structures located on the island. I love the serenity of this image.

The waterfront industrial building is located on the north shore of Burrard Inlet in North Vancouver. It represents a waning marine and logging industry in a growing metropolitan area. Eventually to become another waterfront condominium development?

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Customs House, Victoria, BC
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North Rustico Lighthouse, PEI
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Industrial waterfront, North Vancouver, BC