With its Islamic mosque-inspired minarets, Greek ionic columns, and several statuettes from unknown cultures, the puzzling architecture of the crumbling home on Maybourne Avenue in Toronto is as intriguing as the story behind its creation.
Located in a family-oriented neighbourhood in Scarborough’s south end, the sprawling 50-by-106-foot property and 3,400-square-foot home at 110 Maybourne Ave. has been attracting attention for decades – and it’s easy to see why.
The stark white house, with its peeling paint and crumbling roofs, towers high above all of the other post-war detached bungalow homes in the area. The property is well-guarded with a black metal fence, shrubs of varying heights, and several ornamental plaster lions lying in wait near the sidewalk.
For years, the fading house at the corner of Maybourne and Bolster Avenues has fascinated and repelled neighbours and visitors alike.
It has been featured on a few websites, such as Urban Toronto and Lost Toronto, and bestowed titles such as “the castle” and the city’s “weirdest” home.
“When you get off at the bus stop you see it and look at it because you want to take in the architecture,” former neighbour Stephanie McLeod, who lived the next corner over from the house, told CTV News on Tuesday.
“It looks like Aladdin’s castle with all of the little genie things.”
End of an era
Now, after nearly five decades, the tale of the peculiar “castle” on the corner has reached its final chapter.
The house was sold in a private deal to a builder for $760,000 a week-and-a-half ago. Realtor Bernie Jarrar, the broker of record at Sterling Realty Inc., said the buyer intends to tear down the eclectic castle to make way for a large single family home.
“It’s uninhabitable to be very honest with you,” Jarrar explained. “The roofs are falling apart, the water is coming through, and there’s mould. It’s a disaster.”
The house fell into disrepair over the years as the health of its former owner Max Heiduczek declined. Now in his 80s, Heiduczek has sold the home he spent years perfecting and moved into a seniors’ home.
Heiduczek bought the home, which was then an average one-storey house, in 1970. He travelled the world and became inspired by the variety of architectural styles he encountered along his journeys, Jarrar said.
“You can see he really had a passion for the distinctive and the unique,” the realtor said. “He saw some architecture that kind of captivated him or impressed him, what he did is, he took that design and incorporated it into his home and over the years. What you really see is kind of more of an eclectic Mediterranean, matchless design.”
Jarrar said the home features an indoor pool, numerous balconies situated over other rooms, and a grand staircase complete with coach lights and tapestries that Heiduczek installed after being inspired by a theatre in Europe.
McLeod, 23, grew up around the corner from the house and distinctly remembers Heiduczek puttering around the property.
“It has been a disaster for the past 16 years,” she said. “At one point, maybe seven years ago, he was redoing the roof, but he was in his sixties trying to redo a roof. He would do like maybe a metre a day, hop off, and go back inside.”
Although she doesn’t live down the street from Heiduczek anymore, McLeod can still remember seeing him wheeling his shopping bag down the sidewalk in the middle of winter wearing only a T-shirt and shorts on his way to the grocery store.
McLeod said Heiduczek mostly kept to himself.
‘A piece of Toronto’
The property and its owner have been the subject of gossip for years.
A post about the house’s recent sale on the private Facebook group “Weird Toronto” inspired numerous comments from former neighbours and visitors to the area who each had their own story to share about the mysterious castle and its owner.
One person said they used to live in the neighbourhood and heard that Heiduczek started building the house after his wife died.
McLeod herself said she’d heard that Heiduczek had built a “dream home” for his wife, but she died before she had the chance to see it.
In reality, Heiduczek had not built the house for his wife and indeed, they had already been divorced by then, according to Jarrar.
Even after Heiduczek moved out of the house nearly five months ago, the rumours continue to swirl. McLeod said she thought the owner had died while others in the Facebook group speculated on what was to become of it.
One commenter even expressed dismay at not having the opportunity to buy it first.
McLeod, too, said she will be sad to see the fabled home from her childhood demolished.
“It’s like a little piece of Toronto that’s somebody is going to take away,” she said. “I would love to see it stay. I think it’s gorgeous. If they could do some rejuvenation, like a face lift on it kind of thing, I think it would work great.”