Originally built in 1941, the church used to be Sts. Cyril & Methodius, a Slovakian Roman Catholic church. Interestingly, a developer (Bob Mitchell) had bought the church’s hall (built 1950) next door, now the Claremont Hall Lofts at 34 Claremont Street, but left the church.
The first Slovaks settled permanently in Toronto in 1923. Their numbers grew so large that, in about 1927, they began to organize themselves and cultivate a strong social community. But the Toronto-area Slovak Catholics felt the need for their own parish. While Slovaks in the United States had priests to serve them, those living in Canada, unfortunately, did not. On April 18th, 1934, a historic day for this parish, Father Frank Dubosh brought Father Michael Shuba from Fairport, Ohio to Toronto to become the first pastor for the Slovak faithful in the Diocese of Toronto.
A few days after his arrival, the Slovak parish was officially established and Sts. Cyril and Methodius were named as its patrons. Father Shuba was able to secure the help of the Felician Sisters in 1938. The Sisters took over the care of the parish’s children, taught religious classes, were responsible for church music and singing, and the decoration of the altars. Even though the financial situation of the parish was slow to improve, the parishioners became more vocal about their desire for their own church. Under the leadership of Father Shuba, the first Slovak church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, built by the congregation at 34 Claremont St., was blessed on Sunday, November 9th, 1941.
As more and more Slovaks arrived in subsequent years, the lack of sufficient parking became a problem for the parish. In 1993, fundraising began in earnest. The final building plans and budget for the new church were approved and construction was started in 1995. The last Mass in the old church was celebrated on September 15th, 1993. The new church is in Mississauga, where the congregation has worshipped ever since.
As luck would have it, a couple had been looking for non-traditional space in Toronto – without much luck. Then fluke ends up connecting him with another couple thinking of buying a church. What one could not do alone, two decided to tackle. Thus, what had been all part of the same church “clump” was sold off as 3 distinct parcels. The hall to Bob Mitchell, the church to our intrepid converters, plus the third couple who bought the rectory at the west end of the property. And there is also the amazing old Portguese banquet hall at 62 Claremont, making for 3 little-known loft conversions within a block of each other on this quiet little Queen West side street.
The church of the 9th century brothers Cyril and Methodius is probably one of the only Art Deco churches in Toronto. Not terribly grand, certainly no cathedral. But the squat little yellow brick house of the holy does have its own charm. It definitely helps that this former church is located in the Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood, east of the park, north of Queen Street West. The appeal of this conversion has got to be the unique structure as well as the great location.
The two couples completed the sale and severed the property, dividing the church down the middle. They each renovated their half in their own style. What has resulted is essentially a giant semi-detached house. Both are freehold and are around 5,000 square feet on multiple levels. These rare and authentic lofts have only been offered for sale once, priced in the millions.
I showed that one listing years ago, it was pretty amazing. One of the guys who converted it wrote a book about the experience – and gave me a copy. Not a lot of those kicking around, let me tell you. Called “The Urban Loft“, you can still find it on Amazon. If you are as into the nuts of bolts of loft conversions the same way I am, you need to read it.
Features include soaring 25-foot ceilings, enormous windows, original hardwood floors, and private rooftop decks. There is a private garage beneath the church with multiple spots for both halves, as well as the rectory. All have direct access into their large homes. There are no condo fees here, as it is not a condo.
One day I hope to see the other half of this amazing building, and talk to the other (obviously fascinating) person who helped make all this happen!