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The Globe and Mail

Home of the Week: A painstaking Lawrence Park restoration

The listing: 49 Weybourne Cres.

Asking price: $5,595,000

Taxes: $16,407.06 (2015)

Lot size: 50 ft. by 159 ft.

Listing agents: Maggie Lind and Nancy Garratt, sales representatives, Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd.

The house at 49 Weybourne Cres. (Jordan Prussky)

When Christina and Cameron Mingay’s youngest daughters were just babies, they would take them out in their double stroller for a walk through the picturesque streets of their neighbourhood, Lawrence Park.

Every night, they’d make sure they trotted past 49 Weybourne Cres., an Arts and Crafts-style home perched on the slide of a slope just east of the Yonge and Lawrence intersection, to admire the stately house. “It was my favourite house in the neighbourhood,” Mrs. Mingay said. “I said to Cam: ‘If it ever goes up for sale, I want to own it.’”

And three years later, in 1998, the Mingays were able to purchase their dream home.

The back yard at 49 Weybourne Cres. (Jordan Prussky)

The back story

“The reality was, it needed a lot of work,” Mrs. Mingay said, reflecting on when she first entered the home she had been admiring from afar for years. “But you could feel that great families had lived great lives here.”

In fact, the list of families who had lived in 49 Weybourne Cres. isn’t very long. The home was constructed in 1922 by Forsey Page, one of the original architects of Lawrence Park, and the first owners were Charles Linstrum and his wife, Anna. Mr. Linstrum was a buyer at Simpson’s (before it was swallowed by Hudson’s Bay Co.) Since then, there has been one or two other owners besides the Mingays.

The home was renovated by Ray Murakami with interiors by Anne Johnston Design. (Jordan Prussky)

Mrs. Mingay, a lawyer by training, with a passion for antiques, knew right away that she wanted to preserve the historic value of the home. Even if that meant a costly restoration project.

“We wanted our exact house preserved and restored,” she said. “So what we did was take it down to the studs and then we put it all back together the way it was.”

They were serious about restoring every detail of the home. “My husband was quite determined that we replicate everything,” Mrs. Mingay said.

The owners were serious about restoring every detail of the home. (Jordan Prussky)

For example, they took off the shutters in order to remove the worn-out hinges. They gave them to a metal worker who made moulds of the originals and poured metal to create replicas. Every window was replaced with replicas hand-made by Ross Windows in Parry Sound, Ont. “We really were determined to restore the house – every detail, no matter the cost.”

But before the shutters came down and windows were recreated, the project started by assembling a team, including architect Raymond Murakami of Murakami Design and builder Ward Bruce from Arceo Group Inc. This was back in spring of 2013, over a decade after the Mingays purchased the property.

The home was nominated for an award by Heritage Toronto. (Jordan Prussky)

Over the next 11 months, crews worked meticulously taking 49 Weybourne apart in order to rebuild it.

“It was an enormous undertaking,” Mrs. Mingay said. “At one point in time, you could stand in mud in the basement and look up [through] all four floors and see the sky.”

The garage at 49 Weybourne Cres. (Jordan Prussky)

The end result was worth it for the Mingays. Beyond it now being the home they had wished for, it was nominated for the 2015 William Greer Conservation and Craftsmanship award from Heritage Toronto.

The reborn house had a few additions that were in tune with the original architectural style. For example, they added a front porch, a limestone mantle for the wood-burning fireplace in the front living room and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar in the basement.

The basement includes a 3,000-bottle wine cellar. (Jordan Prussky)

Where they could keep the original, they did.

“We even tried to maintain all of the original landscaping,” said Mrs. Mingay, while pointing out which original limestone steps were kept and which were imported from Indiana and custom cut to seamlessly blend in.

The Mingays kept as much of the original landscaping as possible. (Jordan Prussky)

The Mingays couldn’t have been happier with their home when the project was done. From the gym room in the basement (big enough two spin bikes, a rowing machine, a set of weights and a yoga mat) to the library on the second floor to the powder room tucked under the original staircase on the main level, everything they set out to accomplish got done.

“I think the thing that we did that ensured the success of restoring this house was that we did very little when we first moved in,” said Mrs. Mingay. “We waited until we were able to do this properly and all at once.”

Overlooking trees to the south, there’s a full bathroom totally tiled in white. (Jordan Prussky)

Favourite features

One of Mrs. Mingay’s favourite spots is tucked under one of the Dutch gables on the third floor. Overlooking trees to the south, there’s a full bathroom totally tiled in white.

“The tilers were so lovely – if it wasn’t perfect, they tore it out and started again,” said Mrs. Mingay.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said realtor Maggie Lind, gesturing to ceiling tiles that follow the curve of the gable.

“At night it just sparkles like a jewel box,” added Mrs. Mingay.

The other room that is very precious to Mrs. Mingay is the kitchen at the back end of the first floor, which looks out onto the backyard.

The kitchen overlooking the backyard is among the owners' favourite rooms. (Jordan Prussky)

“We cook from scratch multiple times a week,” she said. “To me, that’s the essence of a family. So to have a kitchen that allows me to cook with all [four] of my daughters is amazing.”

The kitchen was methodically planned when it was being updated during the restoration. There is a spot for everything, including a drawer tucked into the end of the built-in dining bench that’s designed to hold napkins, an appliance garage specifically built for the family’s Vitamix blender and there isn’t just a spice rack - there’s a custom spice closet.

“I was blown away with this kitchen – with all of the thought and creativity that went into it,” said Ms. Lind, adding that the entire house benefited from the Mingay’s commitment to detail.

“They have done it great justice. They have really honoured the legacy of this house.”

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