Friday, July 10

Spectacle Building #53 in the Historic Distillery District

Named as the “Spirit House” on an 1880 plan of the site, Building 53 had distilling equipment on the upper floors. Originally built for alcohol rectification (or purification), the still houses were used for butyl alcohol rectification during the First World War.


By 1969, Building 53 had been converted into an excise office where alcohol taxes were assessed and the main entrance to the Pure Spirits Tank Houses located immediately behind. Barrels and drums of alcohol were rolled through this space, through a (now hidden) metal door, into Buildings 61 and 62, leaving the stone threshold worn down from years of use and abuse.


Building 53 is the only still house that retains its original height of three storeys. The Trinity Street façade boasts large multi-paned, wood-framed windows stretching between the brick piers rising from a limestone base. The ground floor features a central, double glass-and-wood door, flanked by multi-paned sidelights, and surmounted by a 12-paned transom light with a portion that could be opened for ventilation...now it houses the best selection of eyewear east of Yonge St.

A special thank you to Sally Gibson, PhD, CAPH and distilleryheritage.com for the history of building #53.