Buildings of Windsor

St Stephen’s Rectory – Oldcastle

I’d made note of this building previously, but this past weekend I finally had a chance to swing by and take a look at the rectory for St. Stephen’s Anglican Church on Howard Avenue in Oldcastle.

The house while very average, and looking like many houses of the era, was actually designed by a very famous British born architect by the name of Leslie Kemp.

The house was built in 1957 and this new rectory was built to the rear of the existing rectory that was demolished once this one was completed.

This is one of the more curious buildings in Windsor, if only for the “how” that such a prominent architect designed this very humble structure.

The story actually starts with an architect names Jay Isadore English. English grew up in Toronto and apprenticed there as an architect, moving to Detroit in 1923 and working there, before heading to New York and studying at Columbia University. He stayed in New York for a few years before heading back to Detroit and taking a job with Albert Kahn, where he worked on the Fisher Building project, returning to Toronto in 1932.

English’s specialty became Movie Theatres, working first for Famous Players, and in 1945 he was named Chief Architect for the Odeon Chain in Canada. His career took off and came to an abrupt end in August, 1947 when he drowned in a canoe accident on Gull Lake near Gravenhurst. At the time of his death 19 different Odeon Theatre under development or construction. The Odeon corporation, in need of a new Chief Architect, searched high and low, and hired London, England based theatre architect Leslie Kemp.

Kemp arrived and took over the uncompleted plans for the Bank Street Odeon in Ottawa and continued with Odeon from 1947 to 1950. In 1950 he relocated to Brantford, Ontario when he continued working as an architect. He resigned from the Ontario Association of Architects in 1967, and moved back to the UK at some point after that and continued to practice in England. He passed away in Salisbury, England in October, 1997 at age 98.

If anyone out there knows anything about this history of this parish, I’d love to hear the connection to this one.

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