3 Barnes Road

Photo by Alex Pierson

By the time it was finally quenched, the Great Fire of 1892 had left over two thirds of our fair city in smoldering ruins.

Miraculously, some downtown areas were left untouched by the flames, including the house at 3 Barnes Road, where the flames stopped mere feet from the doorstep.

It is now one of the last Second Empire-style structures still standing in the city.

Built in the mid-nineteenth century, it was designed to emulate urban Parisian architecture of the day, where buildings were often constructed tall and narrow in order to maximize space on a smaller lot size in a dense urban landscape. Buildings in this style are characterized by a Mansard roof, dormer windows, and a central tower.

3 Barnes Road has had a rich history as a residence for many prolific business people and politicians, including Irish philanthropist J.W. MacNeily from 1913, and lawyer/writer Richard A. Cramm from 1939.

It was then purchased in 1951 by the Sisters of Mercy (not the band), and became part of the adjacent Academy of Mercy convent school.

The Daybreak Parent Child Centre organization assumed occupancy in 1983, running several of its family programs from the building until 2006.

Today it sits vacant, all dark windows and peeling paint, but still as grand as ever.

— Alex Pierson
Suggestion for a nook? nooks@thescope.ca


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  1. Sharyn · February 28, 2008

    I attended Grade 3 in this house as part of Mercy College. That was circa 1959.

  2. Shelley · February 28, 2008

    It would be great to see an update of this article in The Scope, print or online, as I’ve recently noticed that the building has been renovated and is occupied.

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