City orders heritage renovation reversed

Over $1 mil spent on oldest North York home


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Karen Efendiev has agreed to comply with the city’s order to undo some of the renovations to his heritage home

A homeowner in North York said he will take down new alterations to his house that were added without permission from City of Toronto Heritage Preservation Services (HPS).

Karen Efendiev has lived at 90 Burndale Ave. for 10 years with his wife. He was asked to remove three eyebrow dormers from the roof on the east side of the home, also known as the Joseph Shepard House, after a Toronto City Council decision on March 9.

HPS became aware of these renovations after a late descendant of Joseph Shepard, the builder of the house, visited the property and alerted members of the North York Historical Society to the alterations.

According to reports by HPS and the North York Community Preservation Panel (NYCPP), the dormers were not in keeping with the time period in which the home was built.

“We’ll take them down. That’s OK,” said Efendiev.

Efendiev said he has put more than a million dollars into restoring the property, spending around $470,000 on its structure alone as it was close to collapsing. 

Research conducted by the NYCPP discovered the home may have been erected as early as 1812, which would make it the oldest home in North York, according to NYCPP member Mary Anne Cross.

Joseph Shepard was an early settler whose family was involved in the Rebellions of 1837. The home is also known for offering refuge to rebel leader Colonel Van Egmond as he hid from British authorities after the skirmish at Montgomery's Tavern. It became a designated heritage property in 1994. 

“We felt those [dormers] were not of the time period and the building should not be changed that much from its original appearance,” Cross said.

During renovations, Efendiev said he found two openings beneath the existing roof where dormers may have been, as well as an undated sketch showing dormers over windows on the east side. 

However, HPS staff said they were unable to confirm the previous roof condition, in the city council report.

“[The owners] invested a lot of time, money, and, I would say, probably love, into the building, and they really value its historical value,” said Mary MacDonald, senior manager of Heritage Preservation Services. “But it’s really important that we make sure that people understand they can’t alter the buildings.”

Efendiev said he will not appeal the decision. 

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