One of the most intriguing mansions in North America is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Casa Loma, a fascinating landmark in the country’s most populous city.
1. Its name is a reference to where the mansion is located
Casa Loma is an incredible tourist attraction located in midtown Toronto, just north of Old Toronto. This Gothic Revival-style mansion is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city.
That’s mainly because of its elevated position about 140 meters (460 feet) above sea level.
It’s located on a little hill in the city known as “Davenport Hill.” That’s exactly why it was called “Casa Loma” in the first place as this translates to “Hill House.”
2. It was built to become the private château of a wealthy financier
The house was built as the private residence of one of the wealthiest individuals in the city a financier and soldier named Sir Henry Mill Pellatt (1859-1939).
After buying 25 lots in the area in the early 20th century, he hired Toronto-based architect Edward James Lennox (1854-1933).
This man had a great reputation in Toronto as he designed one of the city’s most iconic structures, Old City Hall, which was completed in 1899.
Construction eventually started in 1911 and the amazing 7-story building was completed just 3 years later in 1914.
3. The residence held an amazing record upon completion
The structure features a whopping 98 rooms and has a total floor area of 6,011 square meters (64,700 square feet). This made it the largest residence in Canada at the time.
Cost nor effort was spared because the construction cost was about USD 3.5 million and 299 workers were involved in the project for a period of 3 years.
4. The most astounding room in the house is called the “Oak Room”
Many rooms are heavily decorated but one room inside the building definitely stands out. This oom is known as the “Oak Room” and as you surely expected, is heavily decorated with oak panels.
These aren’t merely random decorations as well because 3 specialists 3 years to carve these wooden decorations.
The style used was similar to that of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), a Dutch-born English sculptor known for his work in some of the most famous buildings in England, including Windsor Castle and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
5. The mansion is now a museum but also serves other purposes
Today, this magnificent structure mainly serves its purpose as a historic house museum. This means that the rooms inside the building can be visited, as well as the beautiful garden surrounding it.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about Casa Loma is that it can also be rented out for special events. It’s a very popular spot for wedding ceremonies, and the reason is quite obvious!
Apart from a museum and events venue, it’s also sometimes used by movie directors. The list of films in which the mansion was featured includes X-Men, Strange Brew, Chicago, The Tuxedo, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Warehouse 13, Crimson Peak, Descendants, Twitches, Twitches Too, The Pacifier, and Titans!
And what an amazing location to shoot some scenes it is, don’t you think?
More interesting facts about Casa Loma
6. The mansion had some pretty remarkable features for a residence in the early 20th century.
Some of these include an elevator, a huge oven, two vertical passages for pipe organs, a central vacuum, two secret passages in the owner’s ground-floor office, a pool, and three bowling alleys.
7. Even though the mansion has all of these special features, many parts were never completed. Only one of the 3 bowling alleys was finished and the third floor was completely left untouched.
The third floor was later transformed into the Regimental Museum for The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. Pellatt once was a Commanding Officer of the Regiment.
8. Even though he spent quite a bit of money on the property, he only got to enjoy it for about a decade between its completion in 1913 and the year he left in 1923.
The main reason was that he experienced financial difficulties and was forced to sell about 1.5 million in artworks that once decorated the house and $250,000 in furnishings.
9. After the man who built the mansion was forced out by the city government, the place remained empty for quite some time.
It was briefly used as a luxury hotel in the late 1920s and became increasingly popular with wealthy Americans during the prohibition era.
This status as a nightspot resulted in performances of local bands. This is how the Casa Loma Orchestra became one of the most popular swing-era dance bands.
10. The first time that Casa Loma was opened to the public was in the year 1937. It was operated by the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto from then on, a branch that was renamed Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma (KCCL).
The KCCL eventually ended up leasing the property for a total of 74 years until 2011 and operated it as a tourist destination all these years.
11. The reason why the lease ended was a legal dispute regarding a $33-million exterior restoration between 1997 and 2012. This ended up in the city government seizing the property and accepting private proposals.
The bid was eventually won by the Liberty Entertainment Group in 2014 who still operates the attraction today.
12. An amazing new exhibit opened in the garage and carriage room of the mansion. Here you can admire a range of cars dating back to the early 20th century, around the time that the house was built.