After 109 years, the house has a history. It was a single family home in its first years, was duplexed probably in the 1950s, a sunroom on the second floor and bedrooms on the basement and ground floor were added. It became a rooming house in the 1970s. It was the first home of Canadian artist Charles Pachter, known for his “Queen on a Moose” series.
In 2004 extensive renovations took place. All systems (plumbing, electricity, heating air conditioning) were completely replaced. Windows, excluding only the front living room windows that have divided frames, were replaced. Insulation was upgraded to 21st century standards.
The basement suite was added at that time, the owner’s suite on the 2nd and 3rd floor was completely reconfigured, and the more traditional ground floor apartment was expanded and upgraded. The ground floor is the floor that most retains the character of an earlier time.
Palmerston Boulevard was the last block of land to be developed in the area. Until 1905 it was vacant land while building on the surrounding streets had been completed about 20 years previously. The street was renamed (from Muter St.) to Palmerston, honouring Lord Palmerston, a British cabinet minister. It is therefore an enclave of Edwardian homes in a largely Victorian neighbourhood. The developers wanted to have planned, high quality housing in this location and achieved this with the Boulevard (running only between College and Bloor). Here the houses are bigger, the lots are deeper, the planning was more thorough and most importantly more than 100 years later – the quality of construction was much higher.
Even more significant to the quality of the homes on Palmerston Boulevard is that 1904 was the year of the Great Fire which destroyed much of the city of Toronto. Immediately thereafter a compulsory Building Code was introduced. No longer could houses be separated by lath and plaster walls, no longer could attics in row houses be open one to the other. Building inspectors, still the bane of some in the construction industry, were given power to enforce quality and safety in building. In the first years of the building code, requirements erred heavily on the side of requiring buildings to be especially strong and long-lasting. The result of this, and the desire to build a high quality residential area, is seen in Palmerston Boulevard. By modern standards this house is “overbuilt,” meaning the structure is more solid, its supports are stronger and its longevity greater than is required now in new construction. It is built with timber that is not available today at any cost and stone and brick of the highest quality using the best construction techniques. A Toronto house built in 1907 is a much, much better house than one build just 5 years earlier.
The distinctive streetlamps were one of the earliest electrified illuminations in the city and one of the very few examples of this style that once was found throughout Rosedale and several other high end neighbourhoods.
The street suffered a decline in status in the mid-20th century when many large homes became rooming houses. This character has been replaced by a restoration phase that benefits Palmerston Boulevard and indications are that residents and owners appreciate the unique character of the street and are committed to maintaining it well into its second century.