WHAT: The old Adelaide Hotel
WHERE: Adelaide and Simcoe. It's been boarded up for 25 years, but a coalition of heritage preservationists has recently dug up new information that suggests this long-neglected two-storey edifice at the edge of a parking lot off University may be the city's oldest hotel, and they want it protected. Problem is, the city's heritage easement on the Bishop's Block property, as it's known, dates back to 1923 and only protects its facade, not its interior. And about to go up on the plot is the massive Shangri-La development, which includes a 63-storey hotel complete with condos, restaurant and retail shops.
"Around the city there's been an attempt to keep the fronts of buildings, but then you walk through the door and you'd never know any of the history even existed," says Craig Heron , who wants the site to become a centre to honour the hospitality industry.
Built in 1829, the property began operations as the Adelaide Hotel in the 1850s. It had become the Pretzel Bell Tavern by the time Rita MacNeil performed there in the 1970s, and it was one of popular Maple Leafs wingman Eddie Shack 's regular watering holes.
The city's preservation board has agreed to give Shangri-La developer Westbank Projects Corp. a month to come up with a plan to save what it can of the building.
Council can amend the designation bylaw and easement agreement to include the building's interior, yet preservation officer Christopher Dunn sounds skeptical. He says there may be nothing left in the building that's worth saving.
"The interior of the building has been so significantly altered in its 170-year life that there's nothing original left," he says.
Trinity-Spadina councillor Martin Silva's assistant, Helen Kennedy , contends that the hotel should be saved. "The cultural heritage of the hospitality industry is critical to the city," she says.