From 1931 to 1955, the stone mansion at the heart of what is now Crescent School quietly sheltered works of art by some of the western world’s most renowned painters. The house was built for financier, art collector and philanthropist Frank P. Wood above the ravine of the eastern branch of the Don River, then known as Millionaires’ Valley. Rembrandt's Portrait of a Lady with a Lap Dog, and other works by Hals, Van Dyck and Gainsborough all graced the Wood family's walls.
Wood made sure they hung in style. Sitting on a 30-acre estate, his house was designed by Delano and Aldrich, the New York architecture firm known for its work with the financial elite, including the Rockefeller family. The library was lined with 200-year-old wood panelling that had been removed from a house in England.
On Wood’s death in 1955, his entire estate, including his art collection, was bequeathed to the Art Gallery of Toronto (later Art Gallery of Ontario). It was the closing act of his generosity, and the largest single donation to the gallery to that date.
The subsequent owners of the house, the Garfield Weston family, donated the library’s historic wood panelling to the Royal Ontario Museum, where it became part of a setting portraying an 18th-century formal English parlour. Both the panelling and Wood's masterpieces remain on public display to this day.
By Gary Miedema