by Rolf Meindl
The Ernescliffe Apartments were constructed around 1914-1916 and designed by Redmond and Beggs Architects in an Edwardian Classical style.
The three six-storey brown brick buildings have cast stone detailings, and the Sherbourne Street building shows a raised rusticated basement. Along the north side (facing Wellesley Street East) there are bay windows rising up to a continuous cornice that spans the buildings with matching archways over the alleys. The seven street-side corners are highlighted with Ionic columns. The Sherbourne Street elevation has a centrally placed Oriel window surmounted by a pediment.
On the recommendation of the Toronto Historical Board the buildings, designated as a Neighbourhood Heritage Property (C), were included on the City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties in November 1995, by a motion of city council. The interior has changed too much for full historical renovations but since then, considerable effort was spent in protecting and renovating the exterior characteristics of the building that have made it a prominent neighbourhood landmark, to preserve it as a living reminder of early apartment construction in the City of Toronto.
Major renovations were undertaken in the mid-eighties with modifications to the layouts of the units. Kitchens and bathrooms were modernised. In recent years cosmetic renovations have taken place in many of the suites.
Ownership has changed often. In the early nineties the building went into receivership as occupancy levels dropped near 60%. The buildings were taken over by a trust company and managed by a separate firm. It was the trust company that approached the resource group TNRC (Tenants Non-Profit Redevelopment Co-operative) in the hopes of finding a buyer for the property. TNRC first approached Ernescliffe tenants in 1993 with a proposal to convert to a Non-Profit Housing Co-operative. Response from residents was slow but steady.
Final approval from the Ontario Ministry of Housing was received in January 1995, for the property to join the TNRC Landtrust and on February 1, 1995, Ernescliffe Co-op officially came into being. The ultimate creation of Ernescliffe Co-op was the result of an incredible amount of work put in by the initial Steering Committee of interested tenants, and members of the TNRC. But the process did not end then! In the five following years a program of renovations was undertaken to increase the security, safety and amenity of co-op members.