An Elegant Edwardian Duplex On Sorauren Avenue In Roncesvalles Villageoffered at $1,599,000
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So forgive me, but I’m about to slay you with some serious questions about your property search!
Are you ready?
When you picture yourself in your new home, what do you see? Do you crave connectivity with your community, but also desire the ability to retreat to a space that’s your own personal refuge? Is it important that the surroundings beyond your four walls contribute to your and your (future) family’s well-being, where your kids can engage with the neighbourhood and feel nurtured by its inclusiveness? Do you value being situated in the heart of an urban village, surrounded by amenities and people who enhance the quality – and ease – of your everyday life?
What about the features and feelings of the residence itself? Does your ideal version of domestic bliss appeal to your sense of style and tradition simultaneously? Is it a large dwelling that offers you flexibility, including having more than one kitchen for your multi-generational family or a place that provides an income supplement until you need more space, or for the later years when an income offset will provide you additional financial security?
I pose these questions because I believe this stately Edwardian residence – hugged by its community and bursting with vintage charm – may very well be the ideal place to establish roots and grow the next chapter of your life. Nestled on an idyllic avenue under a canopy of mature trees that promote a sense of place and peace, this magical multi-optional family-friendly home not only ticks the practical boxes for making a prudent investment but also offers the opportunity to unlock the unlimited potential of making it your family’s Forever Home.
Rare to market – and one of the larger dwellings east of Roncesvalles Avenue (where all the cool hip kids hang out, incidentally) – this Home Sweet Home is Special (with a capital S!). In fact, as a realtor in his 29th year in the trade of Toronto real estate – and who helped the seller secure this property in a bidding war 18 years ago – this address holds every bit as much promise and value now as it did then, albeit without the laborious time-consuming headaches associated with replacing most every major building component. Yup, this was a dusty pile of bricks and mortar way back when, but even then you could feel the pulse of a spirit that was never broken, and you could see the quality of its cherished soul peeking through.
People often forget that we each play a role as stewards of a city and in the making of place. This residence represents and embodies Toronto’s vernacular, whereby its architecture and design reflect the time, materials, and culture both when it was constructed (1900!) and with the changes by its occupants ever since. Which I consider pretty remarkable in the context of Canada, given we’ve only been a nation since 1867. Built just thirty-two years later, this Home has been dressed in a collection of patterns, colours, and textures that reflect and represent our local urban fabric. It’s what gives a place its character. And today, 121 years later, you or someone else have the fortunate opportunity to secure this. Isn’t that remarkable?
Now that you’ve crossed the threshold, I invite you to cherish the past, nurture your future, and celebrate the insouciant charm and casual elegance and comfort that embodies the very here and now at 152 Sorauren Avenue.
This Is What Realtors Mean When They Say ‘A Triple-A Location’
Nestled in one of the City’s most family-friendly urban neighbourhoods – Roncesvalles Village – this gracious merchant class residence is well-situated in the central west quadrant of the original City of Toronto. Benefiting from the oxygen-rich green space of High Park to the west and the fresh lake breeze rolling in from Lake Ontario to the south, Mother Nature herself provides healing and restorative powers. It is in pleasing counter-balance to this neighbourhood’s proximity to the roaring synergies of our Bright Lights Big City financial and entertainment districts to the east which, in my opinion, are just far enough but not too far, to be ‘conveniently over there’.
Comprising a collection of mostly 2 and 3-storey Victorian and Edwardian wood frame to solid brick residences constructed as early as the 1880s for Toronto’s working and merchant classes, Roncesvalles Village has not changed dramatically from a visual perspective over the past 100 years beyond the addition of a collection of infill townhouses, a smattering of architect-designed dwellings, a handful of mid-rise condominiums and a few select loft conversions (including my own contribution of the Winwell Sporting Goods Factory conversion into 10 custom lofts at One Columbus Avenue). The housing stock is predominantly well-built, well-proportioned, and well-preserved. And let’s not forget, welcoming.
The heartbeat that radiates throughout this neigbhourhood rests in the rhythmic pulse of Roncesvalles Avenue – a mixed-use arterial road with a bike lane and public transit. Serving as the area’s predominant retail, cultural and community hub, two major east-west streets framing this quadrant – being Queen Street West and Dundas Street West – further anchor this location with its commercial and tertiary services, transportation links, and access to major roads and highways.
Roncesvalles Village is renowned for being the centre of Toronto’s Polish community from the 1940s through the 1990s. In fact, it still retains several prominent Polish institutions including St Casimir’s Catholic Church, as well as many Polish businesses including butchers, bakers, and restaurants. You only have to wait until September to see the history of this urban village on display, as it remains the location of the largest Polish Festival in North America which takes place annually every autumn. The local businesses – which operate as the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area – have evolved since the 1990s to reflect the tastes and preferences of the more recent arrivals who have made this neighbourhood their home over the past 3 decades. These residents – who tend to be liberated, progressive, and lean to the left pro-urbanites – are frequently first-generation Canadians whose parents immigrated from all corners of the globe. This has resulted in a growing number of unique restaurants, entrepreneurial boutiques, and indie coffee houses that are part of the new lifecycle of this urban village. Complementing this eclectic collection of boutiques are all the essentials for daily life including Loblaws, Pollock’s Home Hardware, Shoppers Drug Mart, and the LCBO. Plus there’s plenty of local retailers who welcome your business like the organic butcher (The Meat Department), the baker (Hot Oven Bakery), the vegetable monger, and the florist (Willem & Jools) on Roncesvalles Avenue too. Oh, and be sure to make The Revue Cinema your movie night destination, and Boomerang Pilates and Wellness your fitness support team. I do! (Love You, Alison!).
One of the benefits of being well-situated in an urban village is having access to all points north, south, east, and west. And this stellar detached 3-storey Edwardian duplex provides exactly that. Located just 5 short blocks north of Queen Street West and 1 block east of Roncesvalles Avenue, a 5-minute stroll this way or that will bring you to your morning cuppa or a TGIF cocktail. Or find both walking two minutes north to I DEAL Coffee & Wine Bar at 221 Sorauren Avenue; where their tagline reads, “quality, community, and sustainability!”. For something to snack on, try Food and Liquor, right at Sorauren and Queen. They are famous for tasty tapas – especially dumplings! And we can’t talk about delicious options in this community without mentioning Dave’s Hot Chicken! Yum! Fancy a bite of something sweet? Options abound with Craigs Cookies, Yummy Stuff Bakery, and Glory Hole Doughnuts. For superb casual dining, another of our favourites is The Local, a mere stroll away. Love healthy eating? Pick up pantry items and prepared meals – all focused on wellness – at The Simple Kitchen!
Mitzi’s Cafe (one of our breakfast traditions!) was just a few doors away, and while we were sad to see it close recently, we’re excited to find out what will replace it – hopefully another fab brunch spot! Speaking of fab spots, don’t you love a great fusion? Something truly unique occurs when you adapt a space for multiple purposes, like Jinks Art Factory on Queen – part tattoo studio, part coffee bar, and part art space! These are the kinds of exciting purveyors that dot the Roncesvalles and Parkdale ‘hoods! We also love all the galleries and art collectives, like LaLa Contemporary, Onecloud Garden Gallery, and General Hardware Contemporary.
No urban lifestyle is truly complete without quality green space in your ‘hood. 152 Sorauren is just down the street from beloved Sorauren Park, where you’ll discover endless leisure and outdoor opportunity. There’s an organic Farmer’s Market, fieldhouse, playground, great off-leash park for your family pet, tennis courts, expansive playing fields (including the annual Pumpkin Walk!), and an ice rink for outdoor exercise in the winter. And who doesn’t adore High Park? Opened to the public in 1876, it boasts 400 acres of verdant landscape, of which one-third remains in a natural state, including a rare oak savannah ecology. It features the bucolic Grenadier Pond, numerous picnic areas, hiking trails, an off-leash park for your puppy, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields plus the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground, which is a large, unique play area designed in part by children. This is the destination of choice for Spring cherry blossoms, Shakespeare In The Park, or tobogganing in winter (with, or without kids)!
Also about a 10-minute walk away is the Parkdale Branch of the Toronto Library, where there is, in addition to an impressive book and media collection, lots of programs for the whole family. Another must-have amenity? Access to public transit! It’s just a hop, a skip, and a jump away, with the Queen 501 Streetcar & the 504 King Streetcar traveling via Roncesvalles Avenue, with the 505 Dundas Streetcar operating at the top of the street. Flying for a vacation or business? Take the streetcar up Roncesvalles to the Bloor GO stop and jump on the UP Express to Pearson International! Or grab an Uber to the Island Airport. Don’t have a car, but need one occasionally to run errands? AutoShare and Zip Car are around the corner at 55 Triller and 14 Fuller, respectively! This truly is a sweet spot for city access.
Whether you have a need for the public education system or not, the investment value of any property purchase will grow over time when it’s in proximity to reputable schools. Adding even more value? Having good schools within an easy walk, which simplifies life for everyone. Nearby to 152 Sorauren is Parkdale Jr and Sr Public School, which welcomes students all the way from JK through to Grade 8. Parkdale Public is reputed as the “jewel of the south” because of the way it integrates its programming with the community. (There’s also onsite child care for before and after school!) Parkdale Collegiate is the local high school, also within walking distance. How convenient is that?!
Is knowing ‘The Score’ important to you? Because this property has a Walk Score of 78, a Transit Score of 98, and a Bike Score of 55 which I want to challenge, as one can get anywhere lickety-split, including options that will keep you away from vehicular traffic (which is quite rare in our City).
A Classic Edwardian Residence
This stately, all brick, 2.5-storey detached 2100-square-foot Edwardian residence (plus 706-square-foot finished lower level with side entrance) has all the charisma of hard-to-find vintage properties yet has been thoughtfully modernized to accommodate today’s busy urban lifestyle. Its stellar location in Roncevalles Village – as in the ‘heart of the Olde City Of Toronto’ – is steps from every practical and lifestyle amenity, promising an urbane lifestyle chock full of convenience and choice.
This property has a serene quality that exudes a feeling of belonging, in part because it’s one of three near-identical sisters of domestic bliss. While I don’t know the specific history of this architectural trilogy, back in 1900 – a period of rapid expansion due to Toronto’s substantial population growth – builders were often buying a handful of lots and constructing multiple dwellings at one time. (Fun Fact: in 1890 Toronto had a population of 181,000; in 1900; the population was 210,000, and in 1911 the city’s population was 381,000! Toronto doubled in population in 20 years!). Call them pioneer property developers if you will, but they were the precursors to the master-planned suburbs we see today, except with none of the architectural banality, big box stores, and gridlock commuting conditions!
Proudly poised on its rich coveted sandy-soiled plot, this grand refreshed domicile features a lush landscaped garden and an original broad front porch featuring a metal & glass railing paired with laser-cut metal side panel privacy screens. These provide pretty garden and streetscape views (as a people-watcher I can fully vouch for the joy of being a voyeur to the daily sidewalk parade). From the welcoming entrance (I love the mailbox) and glass-paneled front door, crossing the threshold of 152 Sorauren brings you into an elegant and gracious century home that marries a respectful restoration with the provenance of bespoke modern conveniences.
The 2Level 2Bed Garden Suite
Rich in character, bestowing both a grounding presence and an amuse-bouche of sun-kissed lightness, the main level of the dwelling retains its original space plan. There are several clues that this well-built, double-brick house was constructed for the merchant class. First, its construction, both in terms of materials and execution were of a high standard. Second, the proportions of the principal rooms are beautifully scaled, complemented by the classically generous baseboards and trim, tall slender apertures, and the unusually large sliding pocket doors. It’s pure Edwardian. And although the wood-burning fireplace is original to the house, its mantle is not, but I adore it all the same. Who doesn’t love the warmth of original classic red brick?
This gracious room connects to a substantial formal dining room featuring original warm wood floors and just the right amount of architectural embellishment. It serves up a generous portion of square footage too, as in big enough to hold a family banquette with all the cousins present, with room left over for that massive sideboard in your grandmother’s house that would swallow most condos whole. In fact, this dining room is as large as the entertainment space of most new condominiums, so keep that in mind if you are considering turning this existing Main/Lower Level Suite into two separate units. The original hall can be reinstated to be the Unit Entry, the Main Floor living room can become a romantic bedroom, this dining room a lounge, and the kitchen is large enough to accommodate a washroom plus a dining nook. Need more details on how to adapt the available space to suit your needs? I welcome discussing this with you further.
The dining room links to the original hall, a portion of which was enclosed to become the storage closet accessed from the Side Centre Hall. Should you be considering returning this residence to a single-family dwelling, the closet could be removed and the original hall restored to its original circulation space. This hall leads to both the staircase to the finished lower level and the exterior side entrance door situated on the north elevation of the property, and into the generous eat-in kitchen with expansive sliding glass doors that walk out to the west-facing covered porch.
The kitchen, configured with the preferred and efficient triangular design plan, has the sink, gas stove, and refrigerator well-placed with ample counter space and cabinetry between each. An oversized butcherblock island (housing the dishwasher) is perfect for hosting friends keen to taste your culinary prowess, anchoring the form and functional zones of the kitchen while enhancing the circulation space of the room. The dining area can easily accommodate a long wooden plank harvest table for feasting (one might search for a long vintage church pew to place against the south wall so you can squeeze in your laughing, barking brood).
The lower level is fully finished, containing two spacious bedrooms, a three-piece washroom with an oversized shower, a side-by-side laundry zone, and a utility room. With fresh paint and newly installed thick pile broadloom, this level has ample storage and an abundance of recessed lighting. It’s very serviceable and offers great digs for a moody teen or a child learning to play the drums.
Off the kitchen, an expansive covered porch provides room for a barbecue and plenty of seating. How perfect a place to sit during a thunderstorm! I particularly like its west view which is rather bucolic, given the back of the property abuts the back yards of the houses situated on Galley Avenue which runs perpendicular to Sorauren. This preferred aspect offers unobstructed sightlines of the neighbourhood’s mature landscaping, affording a level of privacy rare to find in the downtown core. Oh, and the birdsong is remarkable, too.
With the movement to hipsteading flourishing in urban centres, we’re finding a lot of purchasers and tenants are expressing interest in growing their own food. This property has the benefit of a rear garden with southwest exposure, two outdoor sheds, and hose bibs on the south side of the house for both the front and rear yards. There are two electrical outlets at the front of the house, and one outlet at the back, which is both amazing and surprisingly rare.
For those who would place a tenant in this suite, the market rent is estimated to be around $2500 per month inclusive of utilities.
A 2Level 2Bed (Optional 3Bed) SkySuite With 2 Outdoor Spaces
On the second and third levels, which once contained five bedrooms, two washrooms, and a teeny tiny kitchen was reinvented with a to-the-studs 2bed 1bath self-contained Owner’s Suite with 2 private outdoor spaces. This transformation has tastefully elevated this ‘SkySuite’, infusing a modern functionality while respecting the original proportions and space plan. This balance is a rare and covetable feature. After all, it’s the best of both worlds!
From the generous second-floor hall landing from which the suite radiates, the open space plan is naturally delineated by the former room configuration. The lounge, which we’re calling the Family Room, faces east with pretty streetscape views through the expansive bay window. Beautifully proportioned, this living space transitions to a formal dining room with a west window. Note the art niches on the wall dividing the dining room from the hall, the recessed lighting, and dimmer switches for ambiance.
The kitchen is massive. And it simply invites you to linger. Intelligently configured with quality counter prep space, a large island with butcher block top, a steel coffee cabinet, task lighting, and stainless steel appliances (including gas cooking!) this chef’s showcase has plenty of natural light which any home cook will appreciate. The finishes are rich, warm, and contemporary. And I particularly adore how it is connected to the living space at large and yet it’s also its own zone.
A glass French door opens off the kitchen to a generous west-facing terrace. Featuring a water line, gas barbecue (with gas line), and large umbrella, this sun-splashed outdoor space offers pretty treescape views of the surrounding gardens. It’s a bucolic respite in paradise!
Rounding out this second level, a charming bijou bedroom at the front of the house by the staircase faces east. I’m charmed by this bedroom, which is ideal for a child or a great home office. Like the rest of this level, the flooring is wood – which is easy care and keeps this open space plan visually cohesive. This second level is generous, being over 800 square feet, so it’s easy to underestimate how much can actually fit on this level. For example, one could enclose the dining room to become a third bedroom, installing a pair of frosted french doors for privacy. The central hall could also accommodate a round table and be used as an alternate dining room.
Upstairs, what were previously two bedrooms is now the primary bedroom. Spanning the width of the house and facing east, this ‘tucked under the eaves’ room feels like a luxury treehouse with its pair of wall-to-wall closets, original wood floors, and dormer bay window. The generous washroom with its walk-in shower and skylit soaking tub is its own ‘room with a view’. This level also efficiently houses the washer and dryer.
Accessed from the top floor landing, a starlit roof deck with a planter box is perched overlooking the neighbourhood. It’s a lovely spot for a late-night escape, hidden out of sight and yet in plain view. There are many reasons that make this suite beguiling, but having not one-but two!- dreamy outdoor spaces is certainly unique. As we progress through our pandemic lives with stay-at-home orders, having different zones for living – both inside and out – has become essential.
Embracing the real estate mantra of ‘location, location, location’, supporting the convenience and ease of an uber-convenient pedestrian lifestyle, while offering a modern well-executed twist on a century dwelling, can you imagine having the good fortune of calling this stellar place your Home?
If this property is of interest and you’d like to book a safe, private tour of the home, please contact James Ormston!