feeling historical: the lillian massey building, university of toronto

When we first visited Toronto, almost exactly a year ago, I was super excited to see my department building. I fully expected it to be kind of gross and sad. See, my alma mater (side note: this means nourishing mother … weird) had an urban campus that had been assailed by brutalists, with public transit running boldly through the center. So I figured, the University of Toronto was bound to be just as ugly… right?
Wrong. This is my department’s building, the Lillian Massey building. It is far from the only beautiful building on campus. When I walked inside, I was greeted by a cool, pillared marble foyer and a grand staircase, not to mention spectacular and colorful stained glass.

And then, I got used to it. The campus was so beautiful overall that I no longer was “wowed” by the Lillian Massey Building. That is, until a professor brought in some information about the building on a whim. Built between 1907-1912, the Neoclassical building used to house the Department of Household Science, one of the first departments to admit women and the first to grant tenure to female faculty members. Unsurprisingly, this department was eliminated in the 1970’s, and the building fell into some disrepair.
source (pssst: did you notice the collision in that picture? it was apparently staged!)
But the thing that blew my mind the most was that the building used to contain a swimming pool in the basement!
LM pool
You can actually still see the skylight and the columns in the basement of the Club Monaco that rents part of the building from U of T now.

I really got a kick out of looking up old pictures of the Lillian Massey building, and I thought since I took care of all my obligations to the University yesterday (library fines, key returns, mailbox cleanout) this might be a nice ode to my MA-granting institution. U of T, you are lovely!


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