The Annex, bounded by Dupont Street to the north, south to Bloor Street, west to Bathurst Street and east to Avenue Road also includes the neighbourhoods of Seaton Village, parts of Koreatown and Yorkville. The Annex became part of Toronto in the late 1800s and immediately became one of Toronto’s elite neighbourhoods mostly because the large red brick homes, which borrowed architectural details from Romanesque and Queen Ann styles. Today these stunning homes, known simply as the Annex Style House, feature pyramidal roofs and turrets, recessed grand archways and wooden spindled porches.
The Annex remained prominent until the 1920s when wealthy residents moved further north into Forest Hill and Lawrence Park. That transition marked a turning point when many houses were subdivided into student apartments while a number were demolished to make way for mid-rise apartment buildings in the International style. Some of architect Uno Prii’s most expressive sculptural apartment buildings, complete with ample landscaped green spaces, are located in the Annex. Further west, into Seaton Village, homes tend to be smaller and less expensive, generally quieter and more family-oriented.
Because of its close proximity to the University of Toronto, the Annex draws its energy from a large student and faculty population. There are several frat houses in the neighbourhood; as a result, much of the area’s retail located along Bloor Street features restaurant and entertainment venues geared towards a younger demographic… university students, young families, professionals, business people and prominent artists. This stretch of stores which includes a hodgepodge of clothing boutiques, bookstores, food markets, cheap restaurants, and outdoor cafes comes alive at night. Fitness enthusiasts can get in shape at the University of Toronto’s Athletic Centre, the new Varsity Centre, or the Jewish Community Centre at Bloor and Spadina.
The Annex has endured and is now over one hundred years old. It has a dynamic street scene, accessible public transit system, proximity to the University, and the business and entertainment districts. It is easy to see why many of the rooming houses and multi-unit homes in the Annex have recently been converted back to single family houses. Reflecting the return to prominence of this historic Toronto neighbourhood, the Annex, with its heritage properties and leafy streets, remains one of Toronto’s premier neighbourhoods.