The Guild Inn in Scarborough, ON, previously at risk of demolition by neglect, was listed in the 2011 Top 10 Endangered Places List. Six years later, in May 2017, community members dedicated to the preservation of this historic hotel and surrounding public park celebrated the re-opening of the site as a special events venue.
“I can say that this $20 million transformation of the dilapidated Guild Inn would never have happened without the attention that the National Trust for Canada gave to this site in 2011,” said John P. Mason, President of the Friends of the Guild Park & Gardens. “[Inclusion in the List] provided the incentive that brought together local residents and Guild Park supporters, creating a strong advocacy voice that couldn’t be ignored.”
The Guild Inn was built as a private residence in 1914 in the Arts and Crafts style. The house and surrounding 88 acres of gardens and woodlands were purchased by Rosa Breithaupt Hewetson in 1932. She and husband Spencer Clark then founded the Guild of All Arts, a co-operative arts and crafts community. They converted stables and garages into studio and workshop space for artists and artisans to live and work in.
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority bought the property for use as a public park in 1978 and the sculpture garden – designed using salvaged architectural fragments from demolished buildings around Toronto – became a unique attraction atop the Scarborough Bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario.
The City of Toronto’s Culture Division assumed responsibility for the sculpture and architectural fragments in 1996, with the Parks and Recreation Division looking after the Guild Inn and the parkland. The Guild Inn and Studio Building were designated under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act in 1999.
The building was closed and boarded up in 2001 and was in an advanced state of deterioration due to risks posed by interior water damage, broken windows, mould, and vandalism. The City of Toronto had attempted for years to redevelop the site.
In 2014, the City of Toronto gave preliminary approval to a proposal to redevelop the Inn, in which heritage in the original house would be retained and the white stucco façade would be restored.