The Main Buildings To Be Conserved:
The focal point of the property is the observatory itself, a circular-planned building 61 feet in diameter and topped by a large copper dome. Its centrepiece is the reflecting telescope, which measures 1.88 metres in diameter.
Built in 1935, at the same time as the observatory, the two-storey stone building was originally used by the University of Toronto for administrative and research activities. Representative of the Beaux Arts Style institutional architecture of the early part of the twentieth century, the building has many distinctive features: an exterior masonry shell made of broken course ashlar sandstone, brought from Toronto; a frame of decorative cut limestone quoins, also from Toronto; and a crown of three copper-clad domes that housed three telescopes.
Elms Lea Farmhouse
The brick farmhouse dates to approximately 1864 and is a great example of the Ontario Farmhouse Style of King Township. Built by Alexander Marsh, the farmhouse features a centre gable, decorative brickwork, and decorative wood eave brackets.
Jessie Donalda Dunlap presented the land to the University of Toronto in memory of her husband, David Alexander Dunlap, a local astronomy enthusiast. The observatory and administrative building were officially opened in 1935.
The Elms Lea farmhouse already existed on the land, dating to approximately 1850.
The main telescope was at the time the second largest one in the world, and the observatory went on to become one of the field’s leading astronomy centres. One of its most notable uses was for the first discovery of a black hole, which occurred in 1972.
Rapid urban growth and the availability of modern, more remote telescopes around the world lead to the sale of the observatory site by the University of Toronto.
In order to ensure that the cultural heritage elements are protected, Metrus has implemented an extensive security plan including patrols, cameras and alarm systems.