St. Augustine’s Seminary

Restoring the beauty and elegance to a cultural landmark.

St. Augustine’s Seminary

St. Augustine’s Seminary is located within a 62-acre campus atop the Scarborough Bluffs, and was completed in 1913 as the first major seminary constructed in English-speaking Canada for the training of diocesan priests. After a century of use, key components of the building had reached a level of deterioration requiring major reconstruction. Bogdan Newman Caranci Inc. together with Phil Goldsmith, Heritage Consultant, came up with creative solutions to the technical challenges associated with restoring the cultural integrity of this heritage landmark in Canada. The studio directed  a program to restore the building’s precast entablature and cornices, masonry walls, copper dome and granite portico.

Client

Archdiocese of Toronto

Site

62-acre site atop of the Scarborough Bluffs in Toronto, Ontario

Program

Intensive renovation program to update the original 100 year old building and source materials to match the details

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Heritage and History

This large scale architecture in its park-like setting is unique to Toronto, and its harmonious blend of materials is noteworthy. An interesting combination of cut stone, cast stone and brick creates a weighty base from which lighter stories progressively rise. Its bold copper dome, columned portico, cast-stone entablature and beautifully proportioned windows are hallmarks of the Beaux-Arts influenced design. Their restoration involved field intensive research in techniques and materials to ensure that the resulting colours, textures and detailing matched the original vision of Architect Arthur W. Holmes.

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Design Details

The entablature runs the full perimeter of the main building and is made of cast stone consisting of a smooth, thin outer layer with finer aggregate backed by a coarse concrete substrate. It is composed of five block types each with a distinct profile and proportions, which also have a load bearing structural function. Due to advanced deterioration of the outer layer, most of it required replacement without adversely affecting the structural integrity of the walls.

A restoration methodology was developed that involved complete replacement of the decayed front portions of the entablature with new cast concrete masonry anchored to existing rear portions which were retained, allowing the work to proceed  with minimal impact on the integrity of the building envelope. The main central dome was entirely re-clad with new copper to reflect original detailing. Other elements of the restoration included repointing of masonry walls and replacement of some components, and repairs to granite portico elements.

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