Casa Loma

 Toronto's Casa Loma (Spanish for Hill House)is located at 1 Austin Terrace, and is Toronto's own version of a castle.  The building is part of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt legacy, who was a prominent Canadian financier in his time.   Sir Henry brought Architect E.J. Lennox into the project, Mr Lennox is known for Toronto's Old City Hall and the Bank of Toronto buildings.  It took 300 workers three years to build from 1911 to 1914, and at an estimated cost of $3.5 million. 

 At 98 rooms, and covering 64,700 square feet, it was the largest private residence in Canada at the time.  With an oven large enough to cook an ox, and two secret passages, and a pool, the property has everything that a financier could want.

 

 During the depression, the City of Toronto increased Casa Loma's property taxes from $600 per year to $1,000 a month.  Pellatt experiencing financial difficulties, started to auction off art and furnishings, in order to enjoy the property.  Still he only retained possession of Casa Loma for less than ten years, leaving in 1923.

 In the late 1920s Casa Loma was a luxury hotel, and during Prohibition it was a popular nightspot for wealthy Americans.  Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra played there in 1927–1928 and latter went on to become a major swing era dance band.

 The city seized Casa Loma in 1933 for $27,303 in back taxes.  At the time Casa Loma was in extreme disrepair and slated for demolition in 1937.  Then it was leased by the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto, later known as the  Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma, and operated as a tourist destination. 

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 During World War II, Casa Loma was used to do research on sonar, and to build sonar devices.  The work was done clandestinely behind a sheet marked  "Under Repairs" allowing workers to go undetected.

 From 1997 till  2012 the castle underwent a $33-million exterior restoration primarily funded by the city.  In 2011 the city resumed management of Casa Loma, and began entertaining bids from the private sector in its search for a new operator.  In January 2014, the city agreed to a new long-term lease and operating agreement with Liberty Entertainment Group.  In return Liberty agreed to spend $7.4 million to continue the castle's restoration, and add a fine dining facility.

 Casa Loma has been a popular filming location for movies and television, and a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

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