During the late 19th century, there were 8 mansions along Spadina Avenue between present-day Dundas Street West and Queen Street West. All but 233-235 Spadina Avenue had been demolished by the 1930s.
233-235 Spadina Avenue was constructed in 1872 for Adam Rolph - an audit clerk, general agent, and insurance agent for the Northern Railway of Canad. 233-235 Spadina Avenue is presently one of the oldest surviving buildings on Spadina Avenue. Of additional note is that in 1872, all of the houses on this block of Spadina Avenue (east side, between present-day Grange Avenue and Sullivan Street) were occupied by various (mostly management-level) employees of the Northern Railway of Canada. Rolph moved to California around 1873.
After Rolph, 233-235 Spadina Avenue was home to Huson William Munro Murray (also spelled Hewson Munro William Murray) and family. Huson W. M. Murray (1835-1914) was a barrister, an elected bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and later founded the Toronto Pressed Brick and Terra-Cotta Company in 1888. The Toronto Pressed Brick and Terra-Cotta Company had operations based on the Credit River and contributed materials used in the construction of the Confederation Building, the present-day Broadview Hotel, and projects as far away as British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Interestingly, Huson W. M. Murray studied under the Hon. John Hillyard Cameron - of who nearby Cameron Street was named after. The Murray family was originally from Atholl, Scotland. Huson W. M. Murray's uncle - William Murray - was the manager of the Colonial Bank in Barbados, and several of Huson Murray's children went into banking. The Murray family lived at 233-235 Spadina Avenue between 1873 and 1907.
Between 1908 and 1914, 233-235 Spadina Avenue was home to the F. W. Matthews & Co. funeral home - who likely built the rear addition on the building which fronts the rear laneway. When Huson W. M. Murray died in 1914, his funeral was held at F. W. Matthews & Co. in his former residence.
By the late 1910s, 233-235 Spadina Avenue had been subdivided into 2 addresses and a mix of commercial and residential units. The United Hatters Company and Millinery Workers Union was based here during the 1950s. Prominent architect Irving Grossman (1926-2014) and Canadian artist Graham Coughtry (1931-1999) also resided here at various points in time in the mid-to-late 20th century. During the late 20th century or early 21st century, large signs were erected over the windows on the presently vacant 2nd and 3rd floors of the property. Under the paint and sign is a red brick house with yellow brick accents (quoins, etc.).
For photographs of 233-235 Spadina Avenue in 1984, please see the following City of Toronto Archives links:
(Research by Adam Wynne)