The Matador, the legendary booze-can-cum-hangout for music stars, was saved from expropriation for a parking lot last week. The 19th-century building is not listed on the city?s inventory of heritage properties. But should its storied history alone keep it from the wrecking ball?
?Even though a building doesn?t have a capital-C cultural significance or capital-A architectural significance, it can be worth saving. A factor that people don?t talk about as much, but is just as important, is the embodied energy it takes to construct a building ? the bricks, the labour, energy to transport materials to the site. A building like the Matador would have enough embodied energy in its bricks to drive a car around the world five times. Every time we throw a building in the garbage, that?s the kind of waste we?re creating. If you tear down a building like that, you undo the benefit the city will have created by recycling 3 million pop cans.?
Catherine Nasmith, president of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario
"I'd like to see the memory of the Matador preserved. Maybe a piece of public art that marks the historical context of what was. When I say memorial, I don't mean a fixed bronze sculpture, but something more alive, like the original use of the building. It doesn't have to be extensive, just the right marker for that location. The city always puts up historical plaques. Those to me aren't the right markers for a location -- those are just the beginning of the thought."
Eldon Garnet, artist and author of Lost Between The Edges
"If merchants and landlords truly understood the value of culture, they would strive to keep it an essential element of their community. It is sad cultural currency is worth so little; were it valued more, artists would not have to flee communities. Think of how much richer our neighborhoods would be if risk takers and entrepreneurs fought to keep culture an important community asset. Is it not time buildings of cultural significance are valued as a chattel of community wealth? Buildings are merely spiritless, vacuous shells without culture or artistic life within. Preserving cultural heritage is not solely about bricks and mortar."
Keith Rushton, design professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design
"What's more important is that buildings be given a chance to evolve in the very same way that Jane Jacobs said, that old buildings are the birthplace of new ideas. And this building has such an iconic past. What was great about the Matador and I think what it will be preserving, as Ann Dunn and the Dunn family wanted to see, is the very spirit of the Matador perhaps kept as a music hall. I think one of the things that we have to recognize is some of our buildings and spaces aren't just about the history, but about the uses, and specifically this is a performance space. And the city cannot allow these spaces to just disappear without a fight."
Simon Wookey, founder of savethematador.com
"I couldn't tell you if we're in favour of saving this particular building or not. I don't think we can say that there's just one type of historic building or architecture that's worth saving. I think we're open to many kinds of architecture and sites that have different importance to different communities in the city."
Peggy Mooney, executive director of Heritage Toronto