Benjamin Johnson House – In Toronto’s Forgotten Gerrard Village

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2020 – The Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy’s Coffee, is located at 84 Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave on the northeast corner in downtown Toronto
2020 – The Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy’s Coffee, is located at 84 Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave on the northeast corner in downtown Toronto

The Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy’s Coffee, is located at 84 Gerrard St W (at Laplante Ave on the northeast corner) in what was once Gerrard Village in downtown Toronto.

The Architecture of the Benjamin Johnson House

The three-storey brick home was built in 1875 by Benjamin Johnson. He was a bricklayer and built the house for himself.

The architecture is considered transitional; however, it’s mainly Georgian style. The exception would be the window and door head brick detail representing Second Empire architecture. Other noteworthy elements include quoin corners, dentil cornice, the simple pediment dormer, the fine brick chimney and the raised foundation. Now replaced with a single arched door, the home’s entrance once had a set of narrow doors with an arched fanlight above.

1972 – Looking northeast at the corner of Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave towards the Benjamin Johnson House. The short stretch of Gerrard St W, between Elizabeth St and Bay St, and eventually approaching Yonge St was once known as Gerrard Village
1972 – Looking northeast at the corner of Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave towards the Benjamin Johnson House. The area was once known as Gerrard Village (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 67, Item 26)

The house is part of the last remaining block of early buildings in the Gerrard St W and Bay St area, now surrounded by large buildings and tall towers. The majestic home received heritage status from the city in 1974.

Today, the historic property is home to Jimmy’s Coffee. The exterior west wall features a giant mural by artist Christiano De Araujo. The 8 x 3.7 m or 26 x 12 ft mural called Mount Jimmy’s Rushmore shows Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Buffett and Jim Morrison.

Gerrard Village

1965 - Looking southeast along Gerrard St W towards Yonge St. The colourfully painted shops that lined the street included the Village Bookstore, The Unicorn (a boutique) and The Artisans. Notice on the left the Toronto Dominion Bank at Yonge St and in the centre, the 1965 Chevrolet Impala
1965 – Looking southeast along Gerrard St W towards Yonge St. The colourfully painted shops that lined the street included the Village Bookstore, The Unicorn (a boutique) and The Artisans (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 1, ID 146)

The short stretch of Gerrard St W, between Elizabeth St and Bay St, and eventually approaching Yonge St was known as Gerrard Village.

Artists moved into the area’s row houses in the 1920s. In the 1950s and ’60s, the bohemian neighbourhood was compared to NYC’s Greenwich Village. The colourfully painted shops that lined Gerrard St W included the Village Bookstore, The Unicorn (a boutique) and The Artisans. At the same time, some restaurants in the beatnik quarter were Jack & Jill, the Limelight and Mary John’s Cafe.

A few of the famous people who called the Village home included Ernest Hemmingway and Pierre Burton. Lawren Harris, a member of the Group of Seven, drew some of his early sketches here. By the 1970s, many of the row houses had been torn down as the area was being developed.

How Gerrard Street Got Its Name

Gerrard St was named by Captain John McGill (Receiver General of Upper Canada) after his friend, Irish-born Samuel Gerrard. A prominent Montreal businessman, Gerrard was a fur trader, financier and the second president of the Bank of Montreal.

Benjamin Johnson House Photos

2020 – The Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy’s Coffee, is located at 84 Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave on the northeast corner in downtown Toronto
2020 – The Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy’s Coffee, is located at 84 Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave on the northeast corner in downtown Toronto
1972 – Looking northeast at the corner of Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave towards the Benjamin Johnson House. The short stretch of Gerrard St W, between Elizabeth St and Bay St, and eventually approaching Yonge St, was once known as Gerrard Village
1972 – Looking northeast at the corner of Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave towards the Benjamin Johnson House. The short stretch of Gerrard St W, between Elizabeth St and Bay St, and eventually approaching Yonge St, was once known as Gerrard Village (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 67, Item 26)
2023 – The Benjamin Johnson House is located on the northeast corner of Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave. Mr Johnson, a bricklayer, built the residence for himself and his family in 1875. Today home to Jimmy's Coffee, the building's west side features the Jimmy Mount Rushmore mural by Christiano De Araujo
2023 – The Benjamin Johnson House is located on the northeast corner of Gerrard St W and Laplante Ave. Mr Johnson, a bricklayer, built the residence for himself and his family in 1875. Today home to Jimmy’s Coffee, the building’s west side features the Jimmy Mount Rushmore mural by Christiano De Araujo
2023 – Looking northeast toward Gerrard St W between Laplante Ave and Bay St in downtown Toronto. This stretch of homes and businesses is what remains of the bohemian neighbourhood once known as Gerrard Village. Notice the historic Benjamin Johnson House on the left, today Jimmy's Coffee
2023 – Looking northeast toward Gerrard St W between Laplante Ave and Bay St in downtown Toronto. This stretch of homes and businesses is what remains of the bohemian neighbourhood once known as Gerrard Village. Notice the historic Benjamin Johnson House on the left, today Jimmy’s Coffee
2020 - Jimmy Mount Rushmore mural by Christiano De Araujo on the west side of the historic Benjamin Johnson House. The mural is 8 x 3.7 m or 26 x 12 ft and shows Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Buffett and Jim Morrison. Today the building is home to Jimmy's Coffee
2020 – Jimmy Mount Rushmore mural by Christiano De Araujo on the west side of the historic Benjamin Johnson House. The mural is 8 x 3.7 m or 26 x 12 ft and shows Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Buffett and Jim Morrison. Today the building is home to Jimmy’s Coffee
2020 – Looking north from Gerrard St W towards Jimmy's Coffee in the Benjamin Johnson House. The three-storey home was built in 1875 by bricklayer Benjamin Johnson. The house is part of the last remainings block of early building in the Gerrard St W and Bay St area
2020 – Looking north from Gerrard St W towards Jimmy’s Coffee in the Benjamin Johnson House. The three-storey home was built in 1875 by bricklayer Benjamin Johnson. The house is part of the last remaining block of early buildings in the Gerrard St W and Bay St area
2020 - Jimmy's Coffee inside the Benjamin Johnson House. The home’s entrance originally had a set of narrow doors with an arched fanlight above, later replaced with a single arched door
2020 – Jimmy’s Coffee inside the Benjamin Johnson House. The home’s entrance originally had a set of narrow doors with an arched fanlight above, later replaced with a single arched door
1971 - Looking northwest from Gerrard St W towards Benjamin Johnson House and Laplante Ave. The majestic residence received heritage status from the city in 1974 and is today home to Jimmy's Coffee
1971 – Looking northwest from Gerrard St W towards Benjamin Johnson House and Laplante Ave. The majestic residence received heritage status from the city in 1974 and is today home to Jimmy’s Coffee (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 60, Item 123)
2023 - Looking northwest from Gerrard St W towards Benjamin Johnson House today, home to Jimmy's Coffee
2023 – Looking northwest from Gerrard St W towards Benjamin Johnson House today, home to Jimmy’s Coffee
2021 - Jimmy Mount Rushmore mural by Christiano De Araujo on the Benjamin Johnson House, which is today home to Jimmy's Coffee. The mural features Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Buffet and Jim Morrison
2021 – Jimmy Mount Rushmore mural by Christiano De Araujo on the Benjamin Johnson House, which is today home to Jimmy’s Coffee. The mural features Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jimmy Buffet and Jim Morrison
2022 – The heritage plaque reads: Benjamin Johnson House 1875 "First owner and builder: Benjamin Johnson, bricklayer" Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 1985 Heritage Toronto
2022 – The heritage plaque reads: 

Benjamin Johnson House 1875 

"First owner and builder: Benjamin Johnson, bricklayer" 

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 1985 
Heritage Toronto
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

Benjamin Johnson House 1875

“First owner and builder: Benjamin Johnson, bricklayer”

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 1985
Heritage Toronto

Once Upon a Time – Gerrard Village

\1972 – Looking south from Laplante Ave towards Gerrard St W in downtown Toronto. Notice the back and side of the Benjamin Johnson House on the left. In the background is the 137 m or 450 ft cooling tower of the Enwave Energy Corporation - Walton Street Steam Plant, which generates heat for the adjacent hospitals
1972 – Looking south from Laplante Ave towards Gerrard St W in downtown Toronto. Notice the back and side of the Benjamin Johnson House on the left. In the background is the 137 m or 450 ft cooling tower of the Enwave Energy Corporation – Walton Street Steam Plant, which generates heat for the adjacent hospitals (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 67, Item 28)
2023 – Looking south from Laplante Ave towards Gerrard St W, just west of Bay St in downtown Toronto. Notice the back and side of the Benjamin Johnson House built in 1875 on the left, now Jimmy’s Coffee
2023 – Looking south from Laplante Ave towards Gerrard St W, just west of Bay St in downtown Toronto. Notice the back and side of the Benjamin Johnson House built in 1875 on the left, now Jimmy’s Coffee
1963 - Looking northeast towards the colourfully painted shops along Gerrard St W from just east of Elizabeth St. The bohemian neighbourhood, known as Gerrard Village, was compared to New York City's Greenwich Village
1963 – Looking northeast towards the colourfully painted shops along Gerrard St W from just east of Elizabeth St. The bohemian neighbourhood, known as Gerrard Village, was compared to New York City’s Greenwich Village (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 1, ID 118)
2023 – Looking northeast along Gerrard St W from Elizabeth St in downtown Toronto. Until the 1960s, the parking lot was home to small shops and businesses. Notice the McMurtry-Scott Building and the Benjamin Johnson House, which is today home to Jimmy's Coffee at Laplante Ave
2023 – Looking northeast along Gerrard St W from Elizabeth St in downtown Toronto. Until the 1960s, the parking lot was home to small shops and businesses. Notice the McMurtry-Scott Building and the Benjamin Johnson House, which is today home to Jimmy’s Coffee at Laplante Ave
1963 - Looking southeast along Gerrard St W towards Bay St in the neighbourhood once known as Gerrard Village. Artists moved into the area’s row houses in the 1920s. A few of the famous people who lived in the Village included Ernest Hemmingway and Pierre Burton
1963 – Looking southeast along Gerrard St W towards Bay St in the neighbourhood once known as Gerrard Village. Artists moved into the area’s row houses in the 1920s. A few of the famous people who lived in the Village included Ernest Hemmingway and Pierre Burton (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 1, ID 117)
2023 – Looking southeast along Gerrard St W toward Bay St in downtown Toronto. This stretch of Gerrard St W, which is now home to a mixed-use building, was once part of Gerrard Village with small shops, tea rooms, coffee shops and more
2023 – Looking southeast along Gerrard St W toward Bay St in downtown Toronto. This stretch of Gerrard St W, which is now home to a mixed-use building, was once part of Gerrard Village with small shops, tea rooms, coffee shops and more
1972 - Looking southeast towards Mary John's Cafe, once on the corner of Elizabeth St and Gerrard St W. The Enwave Energy Corporation - Walton Street Steam Plant cooling tower is in the background. The structure stands 137 m or 450 ft tall and generates heat for the adjacent hospitals
1972 – Looking southeast towards Mary John’s Cafe, once on the corner of Elizabeth St and Gerrard St W. The Enwave Energy Corporation – Walton Street Steam Plant cooling tower is in the background. The structure stands 137 m or 450 ft tall and generates heat for the adjacent hospitals (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 46, Item 19)
2023 – Looking southeast towards the corner of Elizabeth St and Gerrard St W in downtown Toronto. The corner was once home to Mary John's Cafe
2023 – Looking southeast towards the corner of Elizabeth St and Gerrard St W in downtown Toronto. The corner was once home to Mary John’s Cafe
1965 - Looking southeast along Gerrard St W towards Yonge St. The colourfully painted shops that lined the street included the Village Bookstore, The Unicorn (a boutique) and The Artisans. Notice on the left the Toronto Dominion Bank at Yonge St and in the centre, the 1965 Chevrolet Impala
1965 – Looking southeast along Gerrard St W towards Yonge St. The colourfully painted shops that lined the street included the Village Bookstore, The Unicorn (a boutique) and The Artisans. Notice on the left the Toronto Dominion Bank at Yonge St and in the centre, the 1965 Chevrolet Impala (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 1, ID 146)
2023 – Looking southeast towards the corner of Bay St and Gerrard St W in the Downtown Yonge area of Toronto. The south side of Gerrard St W from Bay St to Yonge St was once home to shops like The Unicorn, Fiddlers Three, and Village Book Store, along with antique shops
2023 – Looking southeast towards the corner of Bay St and Gerrard St W in the Downtown Yonge area of Toronto. The south side of Gerrard St W from Bay St to Yonge St was once home to shops like The Unicorn, Fiddlers Three, and Village Book Store, along with antique shops
1960s – Looking southeast along Hayter St, between Elizabeth St (when they intersected) and Laplante Ave. A few of the shops on the block included The Flamingo Gallery and Village Art Gallery
1960s – Looking southeast along Hayter St, between Elizabeth St (when they intersected) and Laplante Ave. A few of the shops on the block included The Flamingo Gallery and Village Art Gallery (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 1, ID 115)
1972 - Jack & Jill Restaurant was once on the southeast corner of Hayter St and Laplante Ave in the Gerrard Village neighbourhood. Notice the Old City Hall Clock Tower in the background on the right
1972 – Jack & Jill Restaurant was once on the southeast corner of Hayter St and Laplante Ave in the Gerrard Village neighbourhood. Notice the Old City Hall Clock Tower in the background on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 67, Item 30)
1966 - Looking southeast towards Jack & Jill Restaurant, once on the corner of Hayter St and Laplante Ave in the neighbourhood known as Gerrard Village
1966 – Looking southeast towards Jack & Jill Restaurant, once on the corner of Hayter St and Laplante Ave in the neighbourhood known as Gerrard Village (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 1, ID 114)
2023 – Looking southeast towards The McMurtry-Scott Building from Hayter St and Laplante Ave in downtown Toronto. The corner was once home to Jack & Jill Restaurant in the neighbourhood once known as Gerrard Village
2023 – Looking southeast towards The McMurtry-Scott Building from Hayter St and Laplante Ave in downtown Toronto. The corner was once home to Jack & Jill Restaurant in the neighbourhood once known as Gerrard Village
1972 - Looking northwest towards the corner of Bay St and Gerrard St W in downtown Toronto. The semi-detached house at 70 Gerrard St W was built in 1867 by builder James Maguire and received heritage status from the city in 1974. Today it's home to Tim Horton's
1972 – Looking northwest towards the corner of Bay St and Gerrard St W in downtown Toronto. The semi-detached house at 70 Gerrard St W was built in 1867 by builder James Maguire and received heritage status from the city in 1974. Today it’s home to Tim Horton’s (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 60, Item 4)
2023 – Looking northwest toward shops and businesses on Gerrard St W between Bay St and Laplante Ave in downtown Toronto. The neighbourhood, once known as Gerrard Village, had colourfully painted shops and was compared to NYC's Greenwich Village. Notice the Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy's Coffee at the end of the block
2023 – Looking northwest toward shops and businesses on Gerrard St W between Bay St and Laplante Ave in downtown Toronto. The neighbourhood, once known as Gerrard Village, had colourfully painted shops and was compared to NYC’s Greenwich Village. Notice the Benjamin Johnson House, today Jimmy’s Coffee at the end of the block
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