George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2005.
50 Baldwin Street, Toronto, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1875 to 1877
1875 to 1881
1877 to 1886
Event, Person, Organization:
George Brown House
Research Report Number:
1998 SUA Dec, 1976-036, 2006-014, 2007-047
Existing plaque: 50 Baldwin Street, Toronto, Ontario
Originally named Lambton Lodge, this elegant house was built from 1874 to 1876 for George Brown, eminent journalist, politician, and Father of Confederation. Designed in the Second Empire style so much in vogue in Canada in the 1870s, the substantial and distinguished residence reflected Brown’s prominence as a respected public figure. During his time here, Brown served as a member of the Senate and continued to be an influential voice in political affairs. Tragically, following a gunshot wound inflicted by a dismissed Globe employee, he died here in 1880 at the age of 61.
Description of Historic Place
George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada is a three-storey Victorian residence located at the corner of Beverley and Baldwin streets in the heart of downtown Toronto. The proprety includes a red brick mansard-roofed house with carved stone trim and a elegant cast iron garden railings, built for George Brown, a Father of Confederation. The house, where George Brown spent the end of is life, now houses a museum, a meeting space and offices. The designation refers to the house on its lot.
George Brown House was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1976 because: it was the home of George Brown, a Father of Confederation; and it is arguably the site most intimately associated with the Abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad History in Toronto.
The heritage value of George Brown House National Historic Site of Canada lies in its association with George Brown and through him with the achievement of Canadian Confederation as well as with the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. The historical associations are carried by the house itself in both its location and physical properties.
This house was built for George Brown 1875-1877 and occupied by his family from 1877-1886. Brown lived here in retirement until his death in 1881. At the time he lived here, Brown was owner and editor of The Globe newspaper, a Senator and a Father of Confederation. Brown and his family also had played a central role in the Abolitionist movement whose Canadian activity centered in Toronto. Brown himself was personally involved in the lives of many Underground Railroad refugees. The house has been restored by the Ontario Heritage Foundation and is open for public visitation.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1976.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of the site include: its location in central Toronto; its setting on an urban residential lot with lawns and garden separating the house from the street; its rectangular three-storey massing, L-shaped footprint and mansard roof; its sophisticated Second Empire design with a three-bay façade and central entry; its surface variation through recessing central bay on façade, use of stringcourse; Italianate decorative elements such as bay windows and the heavily sculpted window and door surrounds, heavy bracketed cornice, and elaborate dormer windows; the substantial nature of its exterior materials (red brick with stone trim); the craftsmanship evident in its composition (carved stone and elaborate wood trim); the integrity of the symmetrical interior plan; surviving materials, forms, and finishes of interior furnishings, fittings and surfaces from the Brown period; the workmanship and materials of the cast iron fence.