There are few things as magical as a castle. When you’re a young child and you hear of knights slaying dragons and princesses losing their glass slippers, they always take place in the shadow of some grand enchanting castle that you dream of one day visiting. That same magic, that same feeling of wonder you had as a child comes alive once again when visiting Casa Loma in Toronto.
Casa Loma is Spanish for hill house. The building itself is a gothic-revival-style house located in midtown Toronto that now serves as both a city landmark and a museum. Original construction of Pellatt. Pellatt enlisted architect E. J. Lennox to design the 64,700 sq. ft. building. The entire project cost roughly $3,500,000 and took 300 workers and three years to complete.
With 98 rooms, it was the largest private residence in Canada once complete. During the depression that followed the First World War, Henry P and was forced to sell the property in 1923. In the late ‘20s private investors operated the castle as a luxury hotel. It became a popular venue for wealthy American tourists during the prohibition. The City of Toronto took control of Casa Loma in 1933, purchasing it for just $27,303. By this point in time the building was extremely run down and had lost its mystery and luster that once drew in visitors. In 1937, the venue was leased to a company called the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto, which later became known as the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma (KCCL). They operated the castle as a tourist destination for the following 74 years, during which time Casa Loma underwent a 15-year, $33,000,000 restoration, funded largely by the City of Toronto.
In 2011, the city resumed control and ownership of Casa Loma and began welcoming bids from the private sector in its search for a new operator. Two years ago, Liberty Entertainment Group, under the leadership of President and CEO Nick Di Donato, entered a long-term lease and operating agreement with the City of Toronto which stipulated that the company would invest $7,400,000 to continue the castle’s restoration. The project would include implementing air conditioning, enhancing the special events and dining experience, and integrating new technology for school and cultural programming.
With Casa Loma having returned to its original beauty and glory, 2000 Marvel Comics blockbuster X-Men utilized its vast halls and grand entryways as the location of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. It was also temporarily transformed into the well-known school of witchcraft and wizardry, Hogwarts, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Naturally, it has become one of Toronto’s most popular wedding venues as well. Who wouldn’t want the most magical day of their lives to take place inside a castle straight out of their favourite childhood stories?