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LAST UPDATE: August 29 2021
In 2013, there was an application for a 19-storey building at 26 Alexander Street. This proposal would have seen the demolition of the existing building. It is unclear if this application is still active as of 2021.
26 Alexander Street was constructed in 1863/1864; although has later additions and alterations, including the Tudoresque exterior cladding and rear addition. It is representative of early development on Alexander Street.
26 Alexander Street has formerly been known as both 20 Alexander Street and 22 Alexander Street. Its present-day address has been used since 1890.
26 Alexander Street appears to have originally been a detached house, but later became the westmost of a row of houses at 28-38 Alexander Street that were constructed in the 1870s. The rest of the row was demolished during the 20th century and 26 Alexander Street is once again a detached house.
26 Alexander Street is a rare surviving 19th century property within the Wood-Wellesley Redevelopment Area.
In 1910, Eaton's purchased approximately 75% of the properties in the area bounded by Alexander Street, Carlton Street, Church Street, and Yonge Street as part of their shift northwards (which saw their flagship store built at the southwest corner of College Street and Yonge Street in 1928-1930). By the Great Depression and World War 2, Eaton's was looking to offload their surplus property holdings in the area.
Subsequently, in 1952 the City of Toronto declared the Wood-Wellesley neighbourhood as a "Redevelopment Area" via Bylaw 18746. This allowed municipal authorities to expropriate properties in the area and sell them to private developers at a nominal cost in the name of tackling urban blight, urban deterioration, and slum conditions; providing increased housing opportunities; and increasing property values and tax assessments. Significant debate arose as to whether this was an inappropriate application of municipal legislation to a neighbourhood which was reportedly in good repair and upkeep, as well as in regards to the postwar business-political relations in this decision.
While this bylaw was repealed due to multi-year challenges and community opposition in 1957, much of the Wood-Wellesley area underwent drastic redevelopment in the 1950s-1970s, which saw the construction of numerous high-rise apartment towers - including Canada's first high-rise apartment complex at City Park Apartments.
26 Alexander Street appears to have been a hold-out property and is now one of only a few surviving properties on Alexander Street which predate World War 2.
The first occupants of 26 Alexander Street were Thomas Roddy (c. 1829-1878) and Robert Roddy (c. 1835/1837-1884) who lived here from 1864 until 1884. Thomas and Robert Roddy were brothers and the sons of Charles Roddy and Jane Thompson . The Roddy family were a large Irish-Canadian family (Charles and Jane Roddy had 10 children).
During the 1820s, the Roddy family ran Roddy's Tavern on Church Street just south of King Street East. Several family members later entered the printing industry with their operations based on Lombard Street.
Thomas Roddy started his career as a printer, but later became a bailiff. Robert Roddy entered municipal service in 1852 and served as the City Clerk between 1876 and his death in 1884.
Another of the Roddy brothers - William Roddy, a printer - lived next door to the immediate west during the 1860s. To the east was the Plymouth Brethren Meeting House church.
26 Alexander Street remained the Roddy residence until Robert Roddy's death in 1884.
In 1885, 26 Alexander Street became home to James Murray and William L. Murray - who were hardware merchants and tinsmiths with a business (W. L. Murray) at 313 Yonge Street.
Between the late 1890s and the 1950s, 26 Alexander Street was home to several generations of the Hartwell family. During the 1930s, William Hartwell was a Department Manager at Ryrie-Birks (jewelers and silversmiths). He later operated a gift shop at 1504 Yonge Street during the 1940s.
In 1959, Carman's Steakhouse opened at 26 Alexander Street. Carman's Steakhouse was established by restauranteur Athanasios Karamanos (Arthur Carman) (c. 1926-2010). Reportedly, Karamanos faced challenges when first opening the restaurant as the building was zoned for residential use as of 1959. Carman's Steakhouse was one of several steakhouses which operated in the Church-Wellesley Village during the mid-to-late 20th century. Carman's Steakhouse had several dining rooms named after historical figures from Toronto, including the Alexander Wood Room. Carman's Steakhouse remained in operation at 26 Alexander Street until 2009. Mr. Karamanos was also a philanthropist who founded CARAVAN - a multi-cultural annual festival; and also donated the Garden of the Greek Gods at the CNE/Exhibition Place.
26 Alexander Street is presently home to La Nuit Shanghai - a French-Chinese fusion restaurant.
The Alexander Street Parkette is also located immediately west of 26 Alexander Street.
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