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Arts and Crafts Architecture in Cabbagetown: The Homes of Nasmith and Gifford

In Ontario, Arts and Crafts architecture may be referred to as English Domestic Revival, English Cottage, or Cotswold Cottage. Many other terms may be in common use, reflecting pastoral ideals or country influence on a particular design, but most commonly architects and home owners are familiar with the term Arts and Crafts. In Cabbagetown, among many other old architectural forms, the Arts and Crafts style can be found on two streets in the Cabbagetown South Heritage District: Nasmith Avenue and Gifford Street.

Arts and Crafts Architecture  Arts and Crafts Architecture

The Arts and Crafts Movement

Arts and Crafts originates back to the Industrial Revolution, when a social movement concerned with the artistic and the idealogical became prominent. As a type of reaction to its time, artists and designers returned focus to the integrity of the hand-made and emphasised study on the human-nature interaction. Many of the visual art forms first influenced by this movement — pottery, wallpaper, and furniture — were incorporated into residential designs.

One of the founding leaders of the Arts and Crafts architectural design was William Morris, who in 1860, in collaboration with architect Philip Webb, designed the first Arts and Crafts structure, known today as the Red House. Years later, this style emerged in Canada, competing with other popular Victorian forms of the time.

Arts and Crafts Architecture  Arts and Crafts Architecture

Architectural Characteristics

Arts and Crafts architecture is intended to blend with the natural surroundings, disregarding ornamentation for personal expression and functionality. As a pseudo-living form, the Arts and Crafts style was created in a way that utilized the environment: the house was often oriented in relation to the garden and the rooms were positioned towards the sun.

Although not interested in the popular decorate styles of the time, the Arts and Crafts form is still elegant, proportional, and meticulously crafted. In fact, sculptures were often included in the design as a form of imagery or symbolism. However, this is not to be mistaken as a form of religious expression, as the Arts and Crafts movement is rooted deeply in the vernacular, using local materials (sometimes even old, vacant buildings) to “modernize” a property.

Arts and Crafts Architecture  Arts and Crafts Architecture

About Addy Saeed

Addy is a full time REALTOR® in Toronto, ON with RE/MAX ® and is involved in different real estate projects alongside community and charity events. An avid investor, auto enthusiast, music lover and long time adventurer. He can be contacted by calling 1-877-439-2339