Abandoned Spaces: Whitney Block Tower
I had the opportunity through a United Way fundraiser (way cooler than a bake sale) to tour the abandoned central tower of the Whitney Block next door to my office. According to Wikipedia, Whitney Block was built in 1926 by F.R. Heakes, and the tower was added in 1932. Apparently the tower was designed to be in the centre of the building, with another six story wing stretching south to Grosvenor, but the depression put the kibosh on those plans.
Our tour was led by a volunteer who had been hosting these as a fundraiser for a number of years, and she was able to impart some fun facts about the tower:
- Apparently, for reasons undetermined by anyone in our group, a freight elevator was used to shuttle livestock up to the 7th floor of the tower, where they were housed. All jokes about politicians aside, I can’t think of what practical purpose this served. And it couldn’t have smelled very good. The closest guess I have is for use in a restaurant for MPP’s at the time?
- The intricate statues that adorn the four sides of the tower represent different government ministries (lumberjack for Forestry, lawyer for Justice, doctor for Health, etc.) and all, at one time, had faced their relevant ministries. Now not all of them match the current ministry locations.
- The building was cooled by placing ice in an enormous wooden tub (see below) at the peak of the tower. The cool air would then be gravity fed to the different floors.
- The tower was last used in the late 1960s before it was deemed unsafe due to updated fire codes. There is only a single staircase leading out of the building, and trust me, I wouldn’t want to be caught in a mad rush down them.
- There are also apparently some ghost stories, but those bore me so I wandered off to look at the old washrooms. Much more exciting.
Anyway, have a look at the pictures. Sorry for the crappy quality, but I’d forgotten my normal camera and was forced to use my cell phone. Some people on the tour had better cameras, so I’ll add more pictures when I can get them. Enjoy! (Click for larger images)
[UPDATED March 28, 2012: It appears that due to some changes in Picasa/Google+ the picture links all went kaput.]
Check out the album here:
|Whitney Block Tower – Toronto, ON|