Carved from the early 20th century Toronto Feather and Down Company factory on Dundas Steet West, the Feather Factory Lofts is one of the newest additions to the Toronto loft conversion scene. Rising only 5 storeys above the intersection of Dundas and Ritchie, this boutique loft houses only 44 hard lofts.
These lofts retain the original charm and workmanship of the wooden posts and beams. Large expanses of mullioned windows highlight the industrial nature of the lofts. Exposed brick seals the hard loft appeal. Ceilings range up to 14 1/2 feet in this converted factory. Topping it all off, stainless steel counter tops in the kitchen highlight the factory feel of the Feather Factory Lofts.
After a couple of failed starts in 2007 and 2008, Plazacorp took over and the lofts finally started selling at the end of 2009. After the Toronto Feather and Down Company left, the building was converted to office use in the early 1980s. It underwent some renovation, if my memory serves, in the early 2000s. I remember peeking in the windows and marvelling at the gorgeous wooden beams and floors. But nothing happen for quite some time, until a sudden announcement that it was being converted to lofts, to residential use.
These are true lofts – in fact they are one of nine heritage-designated loft buildings in the city. Huge, new windows bring tons of light into spaces with exposed brick walls and open concept principal area. Even bedrooms have loads of natural light, thanks to the partial seven-foot walls that separate them from the main area. The lofts range in size from 430-square-foot junior one bedroom lofts up to 1,070-square-foot one-plus-den units.
The building originally housed the B. F. Harvey Company Bedding Factory is a great example of a medium-scaled industrial warehouse, typical of the type built in the early 20th century in Toronto’s industrial neighbourhoods. It features the solid timber frame construction, robust brick cladding, and symmetrical placement of industrial-scale window openings associated with industrial design.
You can see where the building was expanded, with the addition of two floors to the original three-storey structure. This gave the building elements of the popular Edwardian Classical style, particularly the modest parapet and stone detailing at the division between the new and old sections, as well as a substantial cornice along the roofline. The added height and subtle Classical detailing gives the B. F. Harvey Company Factory a distinction and visibility on Dundas Street West where it stands out from the surrounding commercial and residential building stock.
Existing physical structure, such as columns and window bays, also helped determine where and how units would be laid out. The building envelope is essentially unchanged – it was an extremely well-constructed building and only tuck-pointing the bricks was necessary. Inside, the work was more extensive. When Plazacorp purchased the building, all internal systems, like plumbing, heating, electrical, were replaced. Now each unit has its own thermostat and controls.
The design of the B. F. Harvey Factory involved the work of two Toronto architects. When the original three-storey factory was commissioned in 1910 and built in 1911, manufacturer Benjamin Harvey engaged James Walker, who had received awards for interior and graphic designs. After the Toronto Feather and Down Factory began a long-term occupancy of the site, two floors and a cornice were added according to the 1922 plans of William F. Sparling.
In practice since 1905, Sparling was associated with Samuel Curry during his early career, and gained expertise in designing Classically inspired buildings, including the Toronto Trust and Guarantee Building in the Financial District. Beginning in the late 1920s, he was a partner in the firm of Sparling Martin and Forbes. However, it was during his solo career between 1917 and 1928 that Sparling received his best-known commission for the Masonic Temple (1918) at Yonge Street and Davenport Road. The varied projects that followed included the unexecuted plans for the conversion of Casa Loma into residential apartments.
This is a really nice building in a neighbourhood that continues to gentrify. Served by both Roncesvalles Village and the Junction, the surroundings are poised to get even better. It is a good thing the Feather Factory Lofts are so well situated, as there is no parking at the building. Residents either get street permit parking, use Zip Cars, bike or hit the easily accessible transit options.