Wesley Mimico United Church - 2 Station Road
In 2012 Wesley Mimico United Church will be celebrating its 150th anniversary.
Unfortunately, the church appears to be celebrating its anniversary by proposing the demolition of the historic building except for the tower, and building a seniors residence on the property. While seniors housing is a laudable goal it should not be at the expense of this historic building. They have not yet made a formal planning application to the city but this is currently what they are contemplating, as far as I understand.
Wesley Methodist Church (as it was originally known) has a long history in Mimico. The first church was built shortly after the property on Church Street (Royal York Road today) was acquired in 1862. This building accommodated the congregation until 1922 when it became too small. The congregation then began construction of a new church on Station Road at Mimico Avenue. The old church building was then sold to the Town of Mimico and became the municipal offices and council chamber.
Wesley Mimico United Church is a significant architectural and historical building in the former Town of Mimico. Contextually, as a church placed on a corner lot at a major intersection in the neighbourhood, Wesley Mimico United Church is a landmark in the Mimico community. It is an integral part of the institutional corridor of Mimico Avenue with its public schools and churches. Wesley Mimico United Church is historically, visually and physically linked to its surroundings.
The original church on this property was built in 1922. The architect was the renowned John Charles Batstone Horwood, assisted by his son Eric Horwood. As members of the congregation when the family was in residence at their summer estate on Mimico Beach, the Horwoods (father and son) would have ensured that the church was of excellent design and materials. The 1953 addition to the church which extended it closer to Mimico Avenue was designed by Eric Horwood, JCB's son alone.
When I discovered what the church was contemplating I contacted them and informed them that the building is listed under the Ontario Heritage Act and suggested that they should be looking at all possible arrangements within the existing structure, including seeking tenants or co-owners for various parts of the building. I suggested that they should be publicizing the fact that they have a church building for which they are looking for partners in order to reach any potential collaborators in the protection and preservation of this important structure.
The building is currently listed under the Ontario Heritage Act but really needs to be designated under the act in order to preserve this important building for the future.
Hopefully, the church will be open to any potential ideas that allow the current historic building to be retained while at the same time allowing for new uses. This would allow the church to seek the new uses that they are looking for, while still retaining this historical and architecturally significant landmark building in Mimico.
As a "listed" building the heritage planning professionals at the city are undoubtedly researching the building to determine if it should be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. However I have ensured this review by submitting a formal application for the building to be designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. The heritage planning professionals will now review the attributes of the building against the criteria in the act to determine if designation under the Ontario Heritage Act is merited or not.
What you can do
You can send letters/emails of support to the Etobicoke-York Community Preservation Panel. These can be sent to:
Chair Mary Louise AshbourneEtobicoke-York Community Preservation Panel
Swansea Town Hall,
95 Lavinia Avenue,
Toronto, ON M6S 3H6
email: mashbour [at] idirect [dot] com
Please also copy local Councillor Mark Grimes. He can be reached at email@example.com. If you could also copy me at mimicohistory [at] hotmail [dot] com that would be greatly appreciated.
A growing number of Mimico residents are coming together to protect Wesley Mimico United Church and persuade its congregation to stop explorations and development plans that involve the demolition of one of our community’s most architecturally and historically significant buildings. You can visit their website by clicking here.
Update: June 29, 2012
On June 25, 2012 the Church released a new design proposal that includes a redesign of the interior of the church within the existing walls, along with additions to accommodate future church, community and seniors housing. You can view a slide presentation of the proposal by clicking here. This new proposal is certainly more respectful of the building's heritage. It will be important to ensure that any additions and alterations to the church buildings are complementary and not detrimental to this important community landmark. Of course this is all preliminary and in the early stages of review. However the movement from the original proposal to demolish the church except for the bell tower is encouraging.