The Abbey Lofts is a 24-unit loft conversion carved from a neo-Gothic church that was built in the Medieval Revival style in 1911. The light-grey solid limestone walls and stone cladding of architect William George Burns’ church, built for a Methodist congregation, are unchanged in nearly a century. The 90-foot church tower, built with the same limestone, quarried in St. Mary Ontario, is a square campanile with pseudo ‘battlements’ on top.
The medieval Revival style is also referred to as Tudor, as in English architecture from the early 16th century. Some aspects of the Tudor style were borrowed from late Medieval castles or palaces, which often had overlapping gables, parapets, and patterned brick or stonework. Medieval churches were often fortified places of sanctuary and the Sunnyside church has some of the features of a fortification, but with a huge arched stained glass window to let light into the vaulted structure.
The church itself has changed names and congregations several times. In 1925, the Methodists merged with other Protestant denominations, and set up the Howard Park United Church. Then in 1970, the United Church congregation left the building and it was acquired by a group of Italian evangelicals. In 2003, they in turn moved from their Howard Street Pentecostal Church to a new building in Vaughan. The church on Sunnyside Avenue, in the High Park-Bloor area, was acquired by the current developers.
The architects have taken care to retain as much of the original 1911 Edwardian interior as possible. There are original, exposed limestone walls, original church doors (with newer windows) and stained glass archways. Inside the former church, one Abbey Lofts unit has retained the three original solid wood church doors, fronting onto a 30-foot terrace. The elegant, arched doors have glass insets. Almost every unit has original exposed walls, some with 13-foot ceilings in sunken living rooms.
The Abbey Lofts have open-concept living spaces, with galley-style kitchens and island eating areas. Some have stairs down to sunken living rooms, which can lead to a den or extra bedroom reached through double doors. The ceilings are very high and help to create a large open atrium-style space.
The majority of the ground floor suites have spacious terraces and sunken living rooms. This building only has 24 units ranging in size from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet. The Abbey Lofts is one of the richest character lofts in the city. The lofts feature original 17-foot, wood-vaulted ceilings, exposed limestone walls and restored stained glass windows.
What’s really special about this building is that it is in the heart of an actual neighbourhood, at Sunnyside Avenue and Marmaduke Street. Most other lofts are right on busy streets, but The Abbey is in a quiet family neighbourhood right across the street from Howard Public School. This location gives easy access to all the goodies along Roncesvalles and is only two blocks from High Park.