Gooderham Building in Toronto

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The red-brick Gooderham Building (commonly referred to as the "Flatiron Building") is historic landmark of Toronto, Ontario, Canada located at 49 Wellington Street East. On the eastern edge of the city's Financial District (east of Yonge Street), it is in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood wedged between Front Street and Wellington Street, where they join up to form a triangular intersection. Completed in 1892, it was an early example of a prominent "Flatiron" building. Other "Flatiron" examples are the English-American Building in Atlanta, completed in 1897, and the Fuller Building in New York City, completed in 1902.

The Gooderham Building is the focal point of one of Toronto's most iconic vistas: looking west down Front Street towards the building's prominent rounded corner, framed on the sides by the heritage commercial blocks along Front Street, and with the skyscrapers of the Financial District towering in the background. The CN Tower is also visible from certain angles behind Brookfield Place. This vista frequently appears in imagery of the city.


The previous building was shorter but in the same shape and was called the Coffin Block. The current building was built by architect David Roberts, Jr. and originally cost $18,000 to construct for distiller George Gooderham, son of Gooderham and Worts distillery founder William Gooderham. It was the office of the Gooderham & Worts distillery until 1952 and sold by the Gooderham Estate in 1957.

Saved by David and Thomas Walsh, restoration took place in 1998 by owners Michael and Anne Tippin. The building was declared a historic site under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1975, and then in 1977 the Ontario Heritage Trust attained a Heritage Easement. It is now managed and owned by the Woodcliffe Corporation.

On 12 October 2011 Woodcliffe Corporation announced it was selling the building. The building was last sold for $10.1 million in 2005, and for $2.2 million in 1999.

Architecture and art

The Gooderham Building is well known both for its narrow wedge shape and for the mural on its back wall. The Flatiron Mural by renowned Canadian artist Derek Michael Besant uses a trompe l'oeil effect to not only make the wall appear to have more windows than it does, but to also give it a more mobile effect by having its edges 'fluttering' away where they are not 'tacked' down. It is a picture of the Perkins Building, which is located directly across the street.

The building has a Romanesque cornice and frieze above the arched windows on the 4th floor. The main entrance located on Wellington Street makes use of a French Gothic archway. The foundation is made of sandstone. The steep copper roof has eight gable dormers: four on the south facade and four on the north facade.

With its linear pattern of fenestration distributed equally on all floors, it conveys a light feeling of a corporate office building. The Gooderham Building is set on a high foundation that raises half a story above the ground. These days it is still being used as an office building. The 1st floor uses rectangle sliding windows on the south side, but it has fixed windows on the north side. Conversely, on the 2nd floor, it uses fixed windows on the south side and rectangle slides on the north side. On the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors, the Gooderham Building has single hung and arch hung windows.

The Gooderham Building has three entrances. Entrance doors are in pairs which have wooden frames for windows. There is a small pub in the basement with a large patio around the south side of the building. Entrances for the pub are located in the basement and the 1st floor. The main entrance for the Flatiron Building is located on the north side, and is made up of fanciful pinnacle dormers and arch frames with French Gothic styling. Beyond the pub, the building is open to view from Monday to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

See also

  • List of oldest buildings and structures in Toronto
  • List of flatiron buildings
  • Bell, Bruce. "The Gooderham Building (The Flatiron)." Toronto: A Pictorial Celebration. New York: Sterling, 2006. 34-35. Print.
  • Berridge, Lewinberg, Greenberg. The City of Toronto, building on Main Street. Toronto: Berridge Lewinberg Greenberg Ltd., 1990.
  • Colton, Timothy J. Big Daddy: Frederick G. Gardiner and the building of metropolitan Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1980.
  • Hayes, Alan L. By grace co-workers: building the Anglican diocese of Toronto. Toronto : Anglican Book Centre, 1989

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