Thursday, May 11, 2006

Gutted Hospital Wing


Gutted Hospital Wing
Originally uploaded by Points North.

I know Hospital Row quite well and though go by it fairly often, was shocked and surprised a couple months ago or so to see the tiny original hospital gone, reduced to rubble. This after the Bell Wing was torn down completely to make way for a boring steel and glass edifice that seems to have its front stuck onto the rest of it. Yet the Norman Urqhart wing, in all its boring modernity (OK its frontage is good) remains standing.

Now College Wing stands gutted and alone. Gone are its blacked out front vestibule, reminiscent of the Bell Wing, where you can imagine in days gone by a friendly face would greet you and direct you to the patient room you were seeking. Gone are the wide hallways, pukey green and robins egg blue rooms; gone are the labyrinth of research rooms and shortcuts to all of the Toronto General Hospital...or so I'm assuming as maybe they left the basement alone.

They gutted it whole and stuck a giant sticker on its side, like a child claiming his right to a toy, to abuse it and tear it apart as he sees fit.

Why do people think that by hollowing out a noble building (whether noble in design or function or both) and ridding it of all its interior uniqueness that they have preserved its history? Why do restorators and keepers of our heritage believe that the only part of a building that counts is its outer shell?

I'm truly upset that first the interior of the small original hospital was vandalized over the years, then the whole thing blasted into oblivion. And I'm upset that this same bunch of bottom-line-thinking men who did this have vanquished the entire history of the Toronto General, as if it meant nothing. Medical history was made in those rooms, and now there is no touchstone left for those events.

The powers that be slap an historic marker on various buildings, then drag their feet on designating them long enough so that developers can smash the place to bits, then shrug the responsibility of preserving our heritage off their shoulders, like Jane Pitfield did recently vis-a-vis the Inn on the Park on Leslie, in order to make way for a car dealership...a CAR DEALERSHIP?!

Toronto is abandoning its history, as if we have nothing to be proud of; our politicians make sympathetic noises only when it's too late; and our media blow so much hot air after the fact. And what are we doing about it?


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is too bad that they took down the Bell Wing at the Toronto General Hospital. This building was opened on April 25, 1930 and it was over 70 years old when it was torn down in 2001 to be replaced by the new clinical services building. It's address was 585 University Avenue. Now I am looking to collect pictures and postcards of this old building since it is no longer around. So far, I have not been able to find any pictures online.

talk talk talk said...

It's odd that there are no photos of it, not even of its grand front lobby. It used to be called the "private patients pavilion." You could try searching under that...

Anonymous said...

Here are some other facts on this old historical hospital building:

The architects were Darling and Pearson and it was constructed by
W.H. Yates construction company.
The building was shaped like a "T"
and it had 9 floors and 321 beds
with French balconies and windows.

It cost more than $2,000,000.00 to build and patients were charged
$12.00 per day plus extras. A hospital maid made around $12.00
working for two weeks at the time.

Its name was changed in 1983 to the
Thomas J. Bell Wing who was a past
chairman of the TGH board. It used
to be called the "Private Patients
Pavilion" as you indicated above.

Anonymous said...

Finally, here's a website on the Bell
Wing of the Toronto General Hospital.
http://www.bellwing.info
www.bellwing.info

torjulio@yahoo.com said...

Does anyone have or know of any pictures of this building besides those on the aforementioned website? I only wish that I was aware at the time that they were going to tear down this building so that I could have taken many pictures of it beforehand.