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Casa Loma Revitalization

Casa Loma is a Victorian folly, like the Brighton Pavilian for example, and I think it may just offer too much visual competition for the art.

Trust me...art can use the competition. If you can only appreciate art if it is in an empty white room, then either you...or the room, are probably lacking a bit. Art always looks better when I see it incorporated into a private home of a collector where it is "lived" with. Art likes to be played off other things. And when curated well, looks much better.

Art and design can be combined to produce a much more interesting space. Who says art has to be confined to a painting on a wall in an otherwise empty room? Paintings, sculpture, glass and furniture as art can be combined to produce a livd-in space, that is much less intimidating for the viewer. And that is why so many "average" people are wary of institutional art galleries...they are intimidated by it, and decide it is just something for the "elite's".


The gardens are quite nice, as I recall

Yes, it's a lovely 5 acres (thanks to the Garden Club of Toronto). But again, its maintenance is the responsibility of the Kiwanis, and like all things they "have" to do at Casa Loma, is bare minimum and not all it could be.

I see the gardens as a perfect location for outdoor modernist sculpture. Al Green comes to mid as a first rate collection that needs a proper home (it languishes on an area where all his apartments are at Davisville, where few ever go). The Stables see to be the perfect place for working studio space.


Cities are people, and they are a reflection of the people who live there, who build them. Paris is Paris because of the Parisians etc.

Paris is Paris, mostly because of a lot of dead Parisians. Toronto is Toronto, mostly because of what is going on NOW. Toronto doesn't appear to have an "identity", because it hasn't stopped progressing long enough for one to stick. Toronto is a work in progress. And I suspect that's the fun place to be. Perhaps one day, when Toronto is "finished", the Torontonians of the day can sit back and enjoy "Toronto" the way Parisians enjoy Paris. But it isn't something "I" need to worry about.


Besides, although a comparison to Vanderbuilt or a wider context may be interesting in one sense it is completely irrelevant in a more important sense when looking at Toronto and Toronto's history and what the story of Sir Henry tells us about us and our past. It is this specificity which makes History important, and interesting quite frankly.

I'm not suggesting we forget about the story behind Casa Loma. I'm just saying relying on just that isn't going to get us anywhere. We need to be able to readapt Casa Loma in a manner that not only respects it's history, but keeps it vital in a way that best reflects how it can be useful TODAY. Guided tours, no matter how well executed or marketed is simply never going to cut it. Isn't it obvious at this point, that the status quo is a one-way ticket to nowhere?
 
Trust me...art can use the competition. If you can only appreciate art if it is in an empty white room, then either you...or the room, are probably lacking a bit. Art always looks better when I see it incorporated into a private home of a collector where it is "lived" with. Art likes to be played off other things. And when curated well, looks much better.".

It depends on the mandate. A pice of art may look fabulous over my sofa but it would not be displayed this way in a serious art museum.

Art and design can be combined to produce a much more interesting space. Who says art has to be confined to a painting on a wall in an otherwise empty room? Paintings, sculpture, glass and furniture as art can be combined to produce a livd-in space, that is much less intimidating for the viewer. And that is why so many "average" people are wary of institutional art galleries...they are intimidated by it, and decide it is just something for the "elite's".

I have no problem with incorporating art, and I agree with you that it could make the collection so much more interesting. Casa Loma was a house, first and foremost, and built to be a stately house fit for royalty. The addition of art, along with period furnishings and artefacts etc, would go a long way in restoring the house's vitality, adding further context and interest. I'm just not sure I see the place as a modern art gallery, per se... As an aside, I'd be curious to know what art, if any, may have been part of the original collection? Were there any associations between Sir Henry and any of the famous artists of the day?

I see the gardens as a perfect location for outdoor modernist sculpture. Al Green comes to mid as a first rate collection that needs a proper home (it languishes on an area where all his apartments are at Davisville, where few ever go). The Stables see to be the perfect place for working studio space.

I love this idea! Just for your own interest check out the site for the Chateau de Vascoeuil in France, a chateau where they do very much what your are suggesting...

http://www.chateauvascoeuil.com/


Paris is Paris, mostly because of a lot of dead Parisians. Toronto is Toronto, mostly because of what is going on NOW. Toronto doesn't appear to have an "identity", because it hasn't stopped progressing long enough for one to stick. Toronto is a work in progress. And I suspect that's the fun place to be. Perhaps one day, when Toronto is "finished", the Torontonians of the day can sit back and enjoy "Toronto" the way Parisians enjoy Paris. But it isn't something "I" need to worry about.

Your idea that Paris is 'finished' makes me laugh, as I'm sure it would many a Parisian. As historic as Paris is, and as mindful of its heritage as it is, Paris is not a stagnant place and is still very much culturally relevant... as is London for that matter! In fact, one might say that for all of Toronto's development, the vast bulk of it is as unthoughtful or as unenlightened as its preservation is... at least in comparison with places like Paris or London. In this sense, in terms of identity or lack thereof, the dizzying pace of change may be a symptom more than a cause.


I'm not suggesting we forget about the story behind Casa Loma. I'm just saying relying on just that isn't going to get us anywhere. We need to be able to readapt Casa Loma in a manner that not only respects it's history, but keeps it vital in a way that best reflects how it can be useful TODAY. Guided tours, no matter how well executed or marketed is simply never going to cut it. Isn't it obvious at this point, that the status quo is a one-way ticket to nowhere?

I agree, in terms of the Kiwanis stewardship at least which doesn't work and has been woefully inadequate for the site. Having said that I don't feel we need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Casa Loma is far too unique and far too important a site to do that. It does need vast improvements, however, and I think you've presented some good ideas that would work in a reinvigorated museum/heritage site context.
 
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Casa Loma is a Victorian folly, like the Brighton Pavilian for example

The Pavilion is an eccentric Regency redo of Henry Holland's austere, late-18th century Neo-Classical building, though I suppose the point could be made that it signposted an eclipse of good design that gathered momentum as the Goths and Romantics took over for a century or so.
 
I have never seen a picture of a Castle in America that looks anything like a real, European style castle, so I just did a search, using Google sites and images, to search Newport castles and American castles. It came up with a lot of sites and pics but almost all the places looked more like Rosedale, Bridal Path and Forest Hills homes, not European Castles. I did not see one pic of anything that looked like a full-scale, authentic, European castle. They just looked like upscale homes, designed with old-world elements. Casa Loma looks completly different then anything I've seen in North America.

Why don't you guys prove it by posting pics of real Castles, in America. If you know of anything in America that looks like Casa Loma, or better, post it and say which city it's in. I don't care if it is a bit kitch, I think Casa Loma is a beautifully designed, well proportioned and a unique building this city should promote. It's location is also wonderful, on that incline, overlooking downtown, and yes, just above the subway. I have seen nothing to compare, YET! (In N. A.)


In addition to Bold Castle and Lyndhurst I would suggest Hammond Castle, north of Boston; Gillette Castle in Connecticut; the amazing Fonthill complex in Doylestown, PA; and another Fonthill, rather charming, from the 1830s in New York City's North Bronx.

Bannerman's Castle is quite fascinating but a total ruin at this point.

Hammond Castle is by far the best of the lot in terms of historic accuracy, and rather puts Casa Loma to shame: it is quite a piece of masonry and has an authentically gloomy and austere appearance, looming over its ocean bluff.
 
If this goes ahead, I hope parking can be moved underground and the existing surface lot turned into green space.
 
I don't like the idea of a museum in Casa Loma... Casa Loma *is* a museum. It is a heritage property and should be treated with respect. It may not be in favour with the crowds right now but these things go in cycles. There must be other ways to raise interest and awareness, and all the more so given the popularity of Downton Abbey.
 
There must be other ways to raise interest and awareness, and all the more so given the popularity of Downton Abbey.

I don't think Casa Loma's salvation lies in British costume dramas.

Toronto has long needed a proper civic museum and Casa Loma is a logical location for it, all the more so being just around the corner from the Toronto Archives. Great idea from Colle and Matlow.
 
I don't think Casa Loma's salvation lies in British costume dramas.

Toronto has long needed a proper civic museum and Casa Loma is a logical location for it, all the more so being just around the corner from the Toronto Archives. Great idea from Colle and Matlow.

Casa Loma is not in need of 'adaptive reuse'. The fact that you cannot think of another creative way to house a Toronto museum does not justify the compromising of an important heritage site. Leave it alone!
 
Casa Loma has already undergone one "adaptive reuse" -- in the 1920s when Pellat went bankrupt and the city took it over.

By your logic, we should put it up for sale as a private home!
 
Casa Loma has already undergone one "adaptive reuse" -- in the 1920s when Pellat went bankrupt and the city took it over.

By your logic, we should put it up for sale as a private home!


You are over-reaching.
 

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