The listing: 39 Burton Rd., Toronto
Asking price: $9,788,000
Taxes: $26,057 (2021)
Lot size: 170.5 X 100 ft.
Agent: Elise Kalles (Harvey Kalles Real Estate Ltd.)
In the first half of the 20th century, 39 Burton Road in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood was the address of a stately Georgian-style mansion. That was before architect Stanley Shenkman took up residence.
In the middle of the century, Mr. Shenkman transformed the 2½-storey brick pile into a contemporary building comprised of angles and curves under a flat roof. His partner on the project was the noted interior designer Robert Dirstein.
As the project wrapped up, a design magazine featured the home with photos showing a striking black exterior. But as soon as the article ran, Mr. Shenkman had the house painted white – and it has remained white ever since, says the current owner, Janice Goodman.
Dr. Goodman was beginning her career as a dentist when she and her husband purchased the home from Mr. Shenkman 35 years ago.
“He was amazing,” she says of the architect. “He was so proud of his house.”
In those days, her husband was a newly minted doctor driving a battered Ford Capri sports car, Dr. Goodman says. Mr. Shenkman told him, “ ‘Michael, you can’t have that car on my driveway.’ He had to buy a new car,” she recalls, laughing.
Dr. Goodman felt fortunate that the architect chose them to be the home’s guardians. He also provided a mortgage.
“Looking back at it, it made such a difference to our lives to be able to live there – and he made it happen,” she said.
The house today
Some years after Dr. Goodman moved in, a technician visited the house to service the water filter system. After a few minutes, he suddenly became emotional, Dr. Goodman recalls.
“I was born in this house,” he told her.
With the drastic changes to the outside, he hadn’t recognized the family home. Inside, enough of the original layout was intact to spark memories of his time growing up there. So Dr. Goodman invited the man and his siblings over for tea, and they brought a vintage photo of the 2½-storey home with a peaked roof.
“You understand that it’s the same house, but you can’t believe it,” she says.
The architect had moved the front door from its position facing east to a façade on the north.
Inside, a contemporary staircase winds to the second floor, framed by teak accents that curve up onto the ceiling. “That beautiful staircase is his,” she says of Mr. Shenkman’s design.
Currently, the house has four bedrooms and five bathrooms in more than 7,500 square feet of above-ground living area, which includes a formal living room with space for a grand piano. Dr. Goodman kept many of the elements chosen by Mr. Shenkman and Mr. Dirstein. In the dining room, for example, she has preserved the original wallpaper in a shade of burnished chestnut.
“The colour is fabulous,” she says.
She recalls that Mr. Shenkman showed her the invoices for the rich finishes chosen by Mr. Dirstein. “I can’t remember what they paid for the wallpaper, but it was insane.”
Other spaces Dr. Goodman revamped over the years. For example, she had the architect’s kitchen torn out and replaced. Today, it has built-in wall ovens, an island with a cooktop and a breakfast bar. During the renovation, she also found old layers of black and white linoleum in the home’s original kitchen, which she turned into a den.
“I made his kitchen larger,” she says. “He moved it to the centre of the house.”
The breakfast room walls are covered in a vintage floral wallpaper in vibrant shades of pink and orange. “I always loved it,” she says. “It’s a happy room.”
The main floor also has a family room with a door leading to the spa and verandah.
Upstairs, the home has a primary suite with a large bedroom, a bathroom with walk-in shower and a walk-in closet. Dr. Goodman says she took a second walk-in closet and turned it into a sauna as a gift for her husband. There are three additional bedrooms on that floor.
The lower level provides a guest bedroom and a recreation room.
Outside, the house is surrounded by green lawns, mature trees and a circular driveway. Dr. Goodman says large windows overlooking the tranquil gardens create calm spaces where she can relax. The backyard’s gentle hill was also great place for her three children to play when they were small.
“I hope the right family finds it,” she says.
The best feature
About 15 years ago, Dr. Goodman added a pool to the backyard. About one year later, she covered it to make it an indoor pool.
Today, family members can go directly from the family room to the indoor hot tub and spa – and from there to the pool area.
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