The Frank O’Connor House, once a vandalized eyesore, has been restored to its former glory and is now taking its place as vibrant hub for community, cultural, heritage and education organizations. Visually stunning, the Colonial Revival-style mansion and its surrounding buildings compromise the O’Connor Estate which sits next to the Senator O’Connor College School located near Victoria Park Ave and Ellesmere Road. Built in 1933, Frank O’Connor House was the home of Canadian Senator Francis Patrick O’Connor and his family. The son of Irish immigrants, O’Connor was a self-made millionaire who founded the Laura Secord Chocolate dynasty. The O’Connor home was a focal point for the community. In its heyday the grand house, complete with an indoor swimming pool that transformed into a dance floor, was the site of lavish parties which entertained the elite of Canadian society including Premiers and Prime Ministers.When the Senator died in 1939 the estate was left to religious charities and eventually became the location for Senator O’Connor College School. When the school underwent a major rebuild in 2002 the O’Connor buildings were left vacant and deteriorating with squatters damaging much of the mansions interior. In 2009 the property was deemed so far beyond repair that a demolition permit was requested but denied as the building had just received designation under the Ontario Heritage Act. As a result a new partnership was formed as The Frank O’Connor House not-for-profit organization and the Toronto Catholic District School Board teamed up to restore this beautiful property.
Midway through the renovations a spark from a welders’ torch set the attic ablaze. The roof along with much of the original plaster was destroyed and four feet of water had to be pumped out of the basement. Thank goodness for fire insurance, as the resulting damage set the renovation back over a year but the commitment to the project never faltered. It would take over five years and over five million dollars before the historic doors would open to a restored mansion with a renewed purpose. Today the Frank O’Connor Estate building, with its grand staircase and gleaming original hardwood, is a community gem once again. New footsteps fill the halls as the TCDSB, the property landlord, uses the house and coach house as teaching space and the buildings are utilized at other times by local community organizations.
You can be a part of the mission to restore the historic O’Connor House and inspire future generations of Canadians by serving the educational, heritage, community and cultural needs of our community.
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