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The listing 32 Beaty Ave., Toronto

Asking price: $4.4-million

Taxes: $15,655.58 (2015)

Lot size: 99 feet by 171 feet

Agents: Paul Maranger, Christian Vermast, Fran Bennett from Sotheby’s International Realty Canada

32 Beaty Ave., Toronto (Das House Photography)

The back story

The village of Parkdale was a tiny hamlet on the shore of Lake Ontario when some of the first grand houses were built in the late 1800s.

In 1879, a banker named James Lockie bought a large swath of land and had a stately brick house built on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario. Mr. Lockie named the mansion Melrose after the town in Scotland where he was born, according to current owner, John Scythes.

At the time, the house’s front door faced the lake and the land stretched all the way down to the water’s edge, where Mr. Lockie owned 300 feet of private shoreline.

“He must have decided he liked sitting on the beach,” Mr. Scythes says. In the 1920s, that stretch of shore would become Sunnyside Beach.

The house was built in 1879, and still contains original elements including 14-inch baseboards and ornate hardware. (Das House Photography)

The houses of Mr. Lockie’s two daughters were located a little farther north on his estate.

Beaty Avenue – running along the rear of the property – was created years later as the land in Parkdale was gradually sub-divided. Over time, the surrounding landscape was changed to create a more acceptable grade for the rail lines that ran alongside the shore. The noble houses of Parkdale were often carved up during the Second World War and the area’s fortunes continued to decline during the Great Depression.

“This house was empty during World War II,” Mr. Scythes says. “It was unoccupied for several years.”

The main floor has a grand living room with a large bay window, a high ceiling and a Douglas fir floor. (Das House Photography)

In the 1950s the Gardiner Expressway was built between Parkdale and the water.

The house at 32 Beaty Ave. eventually became a home for psychiatric patients who had been released from the hospital on Queen Street West, Mr. Scythes says.

He purchased it in 1980 and – together with the supervisory staff – continued to care for the residents.

Gradually the residents moved on and by 1984 Mr. Scythes lived on his own.

The room currently used as a family room has panelled walls and French doors leading to the kitchen. (Das House Photography)

The house today

Mr. Scythes was drawn to the house for its solid construction, grand principal rooms and historical elements.

“It was big and interesting and I thought it could be restored,” he says.

In 1981 he had the house designated as a heritage home under the Ontario Heritage Act.

“I wouldn’t want someone to tear it down,” he says.

In the house’s approximately 7,700 square feet of living space, Mr. Scythes discovered five wood-burning fireplaces and a “staircase to nowhere” that was once a servants’ stairway but is now hidden behind closet doors. There are many original elements, including 14-inch baseboards, ornate hardware on some of the doors and pocket doors separating some of the principal rooms.

The Victorian-era handrail along the central staircase was refurbished. (Das House Photography)

He began a long refurbishment of the building that had housed a large number of people over the years. Many of the plaster ceiling medallions were intact but mouldings and trims had to be repaired. Some areas had been damaged by residents and others had fallen into disrepair.

As the work continued through the 1990s, Mr. Scythes was also becoming well-known as the owner of the Glad Day Bookshop and a gay rights activist.

In restoring the house, Mr. Scythes uncovered the grand central staircase and refurbished the Victorian-era handrail. He replaced windows and refinished floors. Many of the decorative windows contain stained and leaded glass. An arched window in the stairwell contains an unusual figural panel of painted glass, surrounded by panes of stained glass.

A greenhouse was built over the foundation of an old conservatory. (Das House Photography)

After Mr. Scythes tore down a lean-to shed attached to the side of the house, he came across the foundation of an old conservatory. In 2005, he had a new greenhouse added over the footprint of the original.

The main floor has a grand living room with a large bay window, a high ceiling and a Douglas fir floor. The formal dining room has a wood-burning fireplace. The room currently used as a family room has panelled walls and French doors leading to the kitchen and walk-out to a greenhouse conservatory and a deck.

The main kitchen has been renovated with tumbled marble floors, granite countertops and a six-burner gas range. A Victorian-era summer kitchen has been turned into a second kitchen with a door leading to the deck and garden.

The kitchen was redone with tumbled marble floors and granite countertops. (Das House Photography)

Upstairs, Mr. Scythes reconfigured the old layout to create a large bathroom with a fireplace on the second floor. There’s a large master bedroom with an opening to a room in the tower. A music room with an etched glass entry door and windows overlooking the garden also has a glass door opening to the large deck.

Currently the house has been restored to a single-family dwelling but there are two suites on the upper floors that could accommodate a nanny, in-laws or older kids.

An arched window in the stairwell contains an unusual figural panel of painted glass, surrounded by panes of stained glass. (Das House Photography)

The roof is covered with approximately 45,000 pounds of Pennsylvania green slate, which Mr. Scythes had imported from the United States. Over time, he says, the slate’s green colour weathers to a muted grey. A slate roof will last 130 to 150 years, he adds.

Outside, the double lot has gardens and mature trees. There are two private driveways.

The best feature

In 1890, the three-storey tower, topped with a mansard roof and decorative iron work, was added to the house to create more of a presence facing Beaty, Mr. Scythes explains.

Still standing today, the tower has a door to the garden and windows on three sides.

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