Earlier this week, Daniel Greenglass opened the doors of his Toronto home to 100 philanthropically-minded guests for the annual Best Buddies fundraiser, unofficially kicking off the social swirl of the Toronto International Film Festival. Since 1994, the international charity spearheaded by members of America's famed Kennedy clan has used the occasion of TIFF to raise money in support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Typically, the event has been a full blown gala tied to a premiere screening and celebrating a major Hollywood star (past honourees have included Ann-Margret, Burt Reynolds, Kathleen Turner, Peter Fonda and Goldie Hawn).
This year was different. Instead of a black tie dinner, the Best Buddies Canada event took the form of a more intimate at-home cocktail party hosted by co-chair Rene Pantalone and Greenglass at the Little Italy residence the managing director and CFO of Brennan Custom Homes shares with his life and business partner, builder Joe Brennan. At 9,000 square feet, the home is certainly big enough to accommodate a crowd that contributed more than $600,000 to the cause through advance ticket sales.
Dating to the 1880s and originally a Seventh Day Adventist church, the converted property is spread over two floors of stunningly renovated space with a two-storey library on the upper level. "It's a large room, made for entertaining and also very comfortable," says Greenglass.
"It's an 1880 Steinway. We bought it in Toronto. We've had it for 28 years. It's a pitch perfect piano. I took lessons when I was a kid, but I don't play much anymore. It's usually reserved for real musicians like Joe Sealy who often performs live at our charity parties."
"They are made of steel and one of them opens revealing a secret back staircase that leads up to the bell tower and a home office kept for personal use. We collect mainly architecture books by the thousands."
"It's of a South American church, the interior of which is very, very ornate. It was fun to put that in the room because we had gutted this existing church which we had made more updated, more contemporary."
"That's an old desk designed by the famous English architect, Edwin Lutyens. We like strong architecture and it's of that style and also by someone whose work we admire. We bought it 25 years ago in England."
"It's the same steel construction as the bookcases and it wraps around the entire second floor, giving access to the books and the art. It's got glass inserts because we wanted the railing to disappear so as to accentuate the architectural details in room, among them the columns that were original to the church. We created the walkway instead of having two distinct floors. The expansiveness of the room makes it great for parties. It's a totally unexpected feature for people who come up the stairs."
"This is an oil on canvas by an old Russian painter whose name escapes me. It's a large piece, nine-by-eight feet and it depicts a landscape. I love it because it reminds me of northern Ontario."
"These are by Christian Liaigre and made of bronze. We bought them in Paris. I like the conical shape and also the colour of the lamp shades which give a soft glow."
"This is bush-hammered Belgian black stone from the floor to the ceiling and it's wood burning. It's part of the strong architecture of this room. We use it year-round."
"These are also by Christian Liaigre, a very well known contemporary designer who does work around the world. They're extremely comfortable. They have a bronze base. We like the juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary pieces in the same room."
This story corrects an earlier version that had incorrectly named the co-chair of the Best Buddies Canada cocktail party