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Toronto’s Casey House offers up 19th-century building – free

Historic Isabella Street coach house must be moved to build new HIV care centre

This 1899 coach house must be moved or demolished by Labour Day to make way for Casey House’s expanded HIV/AIDS patient-care facility. Credit: Rob Salerno

Casey House has a unique offer: a free 19th-century heritage home in the heart of downtown Toronto. The only catch: if you want it, you’ll have to pick it up and move it somewhere else.

The 3000-square-foot “coach house” at 119 Isabella St has to come down to make room for the hospice’s new HIV inpatient and outpatient care centre, which will be built as an expansion off an adjacent heritage property known as The Grey Lady, at 571 Jarvis St.

Although the city has granted approval for the demolition, Casey House is offering the building to anyone who’ll take it in order to preserve its heritage value. Prospective takers will have to have a nearby property on which to place the house and a plan to get it there by Labour Day weekend.

Casey House CEO Stephanie Karapita says that since Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam made the offer public on April 1, the organization has received one inquiry about the building.

Demolition of the coach house is necessitated by the redevelopment’s requirement that all patient-care facilities be located on the same floor.

“We would love to keep the building at 119 Isabella, but given the healthcare needs of our patients, we’re just not able,” Karapita says.

But heritage lovers will be glad to see The Grey Lady fully restored and returned to use.

“What we’re doing is integrating the spirit of the history of the house into our new concept: primarily, space in the mansion used for meeting rooms and gathering spaces for the community and some offices, as well. Actual clinical care spaces will be in the new [wing],” Karapita says.

The $40-million expansion is being financed by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and by Casey House’s capital campaign. Casey House has raised $7.3 million of its $10-million target and plans to wrap up its capital campaign this year.