Six east end buildings to see at Doors Open Toronto

Back again for its 20th year, Doors Open returns to Toronto over the weekend of May 25-26. The annual event gives the public a chance to explore inside some of the city's most culturally, historically and socially significant buildings.

This year, the theme of Doors Open is “20 Something” in honour of two decades of opening doors across the city. Here are our pick of Doors Open buildings to check out in the east end.


Originally built in 1854, the Jesse Ashbridge House and grounds is significant for its simple Regency design with Neo-classical elements. In 1900 Elizabeth Ashbridge added a second storey, giving the cottage a Second Empire mansard roof, and in 1920 a two-storey addition to the north wall designed by Wellington Ashbridge gave the home its current appearance. Visitors can take self-guided tours of the grounds, and see the beginning of the growing season at the urban farm on site. In the house, visitors can see the main hall and front parlour room, where visitors can see and interact with artifacts from the Ashbridge Family cultural collection.

1444 Queen St. E
Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


This historic theatre was built in 1914 and was originally called the King's Royal Theatre. It soon became the Classic Theatre and has served the community as a public theatre, cinema, and cultural hub for over 100 years. Now known as The Redwood the building has been reborn as a theatre, mixed-use open performance space, cinema, and technology hub. It remains one of Toronto's most original independent entertainment centres and meeting spaces for the community.

1300 Gerrard St. E
Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


In 1912, 433 Eastern Ave. was constructed as part of the Consumers Gas Corporation complex. The complex consisted of three buildings, two of which are now buildings A & B of 433 Eastern. These are owned by the City of Toronto, and the third building, 415 Eastern Avenue, is now owned by Enbridge Gas. In 1973, buildings A & B were designated as heritage buildings by City Council. Consistent with the “20 Something” theme, visitors can learn how Transportation Services is reorganizing and changing to meet the demands of the public and a growing city. Tour the Communications Centre, see operational equipment and the salt mound.

433 Eastern Ave.
Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Studio Lau is a small architecture firm in Leslieville dedicated to beautiful but always functional design. Studio Lau passionately believes that every space should be a reflection of the lives and lifestyles of those who inhabit it, and collaborates closely with clients throughout the process to achieve this. Every project is a unique opportunity to explore innovative new ideas and craft elegant, contextual solutions. Visitors can meet and chat with the architects at Studio Lau and wander through the two-storey office space.

1137A Queen Street East, Floor 2
Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


Originally built by the Standard Bank of Canada in 1913, the neoclassical bank building at 324 Broadview has seen many uses, from the Saint George Romanian Orthodox Church to retail shops and restaurants for the East Chinatown community. Today it is home to the offices of Building Arts Architects, after an extensive renovation in 2014 that restored the street-front façade by removing layers of paint, signage and dirt. Preserving the integrity of the masonry and stonework, Building Arts restored the original detailed wood trim, and added operating custom wood windows designed to match the original pattern. Inside, existing historic masonry and steel beams are exposed and contrasted with modern design elements. Solid timber and steel details speak to the design sensitivity and use of natural materials that exemplify the design ambitions of Building Arts Architects.

324 Broadview Ave.
Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.


A perennial favourite of Doors Open, The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant — named after Toronto's former Commissioner of Public Works — is one of Toronto's most opulent buildings and one of the city's finest examples of Art Deco architecture.. The facility operates 24/7, is environmentally sustainable and cost-efficient, provides clean water for 36 per cent of the city, and has been a national historic civil engineering site since 1992. Explore the architectural features of the two largest buildings at the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant — the Pump House and the Filter Building — with a self-guided tour.

2701 Queen St. E
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Visit Doors Open Toronto for more information and a full listing of buildings taking part in this year's event. 

What buildings do you plan to check out this year? Let us know the in the comments section below.