Mysterious Demolished House Gets New Lease on Life

This week started out like any other COVID week, slightly hazy about which day of the week it was, trying to motivate myself to get some projects finished, and a bit starved for some human face-to-face interaction via my clients. Things took a nice change after receiving an email regarding some reclaimed wood off a job site, from Demo for you Reno. They informed me that they had been tasked to demo an old house in the Trinity Bellwoods area in Toronto, and had leftover interior lumber they didn’t want going to waste. If you know anything about me, you know this gal loves a good find and turning salvaged items into new thangs. The team at DFYR, lead by Patrick McCormack and Punam Pathak, handle the demolition process of interior residential and commercial spaces around the GTA, and have a real appreciation for treasure hunters like me, so it was a match made in heaven!

When they showed up early in the morning, pickup truck stacked with large timbers, I was surprised at the heft of beams that came out of what they originally were told was a 1940’s two story house. After finding loads of hand forged square nails in a majority of the wood, I can safely say the origins of this house are much earlier than the 40s.

The plot thickens though! While keeping our social distance, the DFYR team proceeded to tell me an interesting story behind the house to which the beams came out of. 105 Robinson St. had some not so distant history that made some headlines.

The story goes, a man by the name of Joseph Wagenbach was the original owner of the house. Wagenbach was a German immigrant, who bought the house in 67′ and lived there in recluse until retiring to a care facility in the early 2000’s. What he left behind, was what caused all the hubbub. The house was filled with sculptures, artifacts and works from his life. Some speculated that these items may be worth something. Queuing an investigation from the “Municipal Archives” who set up shop, cataloguing and itemizing the immense collection of work. Local residents, who could barely remember the elderly German artist, were permitted to take a glimpse into the life of Mr. Wagenbach, and tour his humble abode. The house was in total disarray with odd and interesting sculptures filling every room. The story spread across the city about his legacy. People were enamoured by the mystery.

However, it was all a hoax… Well, at least that’s how some felt. Iris Häeussler, the head of the so called “Municipal Archives,” was in fact an artist who fabricated the entire tale. Häeussler, a local sculpturist herself, created the narrative as an art experiment while leasing the house. Going so far as to sculpt using her left hand and even taking classes to try and change the way she viewed subjects. Completely immersing herself into the false life of Wagenbach, she spent months under the neighbours’ noses. Moving items into the home using the cover of her Archivist title and her white lab coat. She created his sleeping quarters, used found furniture to populate the rooms, and even explained away the un-usable kitchen by saying that he preferred take-out in his later years. Public opinion was split. Some were outraged and felt swindled after falling in love with this fictitious person, but others were impressed with the lengths Häeussler took to create such a believable narrative.

Iris Häeussler – Legend of Joseph Wagenbach

Personally, I am sad I missed the whole fiasco back in 2006. I was actually studying Fine Arts at York University at the time. My major was photography, with the bulk of my artistic portfolio being creative narratives shot in digital and film stills. I would have thoroughly enjoyed seeing Häeussler’s work in person and getting to explore her process.

Lampshade Lady – by AJ Geensen – Published in PhotoEd Magazine

Skip ahead to 2020… no flying cars, but a deadly virus is plaguing the world, so somewhat what I had expected. The house on Robinson St. was unfortunately demoed, but it will be a source of art still. Artist and film director Peter Lynch, documented Häeussler’s art project and process from 2006 and continued the story by getting footage of the tear down over this past month. You can see some of his earlier work on the Joseph Wagenbach project in the “Archivest Handbook”:

105 Robinson Demolished (*📷Peter Lynch)

Although the house was demolished, I inherited a good portion of the interior studs, beams, and joists. It’s safe to say the story doesn’t end there. The wood will be used in countless projects as functional art pieces and furniture that will now be enjoyed in homes across the city. Who know’s, your next custom build could have a piece of 105 Robinson in it!

We’re Re-Opening!

The Arts Market locations are OPEN as of May 25th, 2020.

This is exciting news, but we will be taking lots of precautions to maintain a safe environment for all, and continuing with social distancing measures.

I offer design services via email, phone and video chats, as well as masked-face to masked-face meetings! I will continue to offer contactless pick up of items and builds at my Richmond Hill workshop, as well as delivery when available.

If there are items you are interested in that you have seen online from my retail locations, you can alway purchase them via E-transfer or Paypal and arrange pick-up, or head on into the shop in the Arts Market as of the 25th – 790 Queen St. E in Riverside, Toronto. Hours are 11-6pm daily.

I hope everyone is staying safe and sound during this time.

Sending you all lots of love!



NOW Readers’ Choice Winner

I am so excited to announce we have been voted the Best Design Firm in Toronto! This is a huge honour and I really want to Thank you Toronto for all the Love and Support! It has been quite a journey these past 7 years. My business has grown to incorporate more than just antique and vintage finds. I also create custom pieces using reclaimed materials and live edge wood. My designs have outfitted both residential and retail spaces across the city, and I look forward to making something for your space.

Check out NOW Magazine for all the other winners this year, including the Arts Market voted Best Unique Gift Store.

Got in a whole lotta barn board!

I love using reclaimed materials. Its better for the environment and you can’t beat the look of authentic barn wood. I love the character and history that comes through in each piece I design.

Processing all the barn board and getting it ready to be used for upcoming projects.


Its rare, but pretty great when you can find out the history on the materials you use. This barn board is from a barn built in 1909 in Georgina, Ontario. It was originally a blacksmiths shop, but was later converted into a gas station in the 1920’s.

Barn Board Builds

Creating a large coffee tasting bar for a specialty coffee roasting shop in the Junction. Stay tuned for more pics.

Trunk Restoration

Hey! Did you know that I am one of Ontario’s leading trunk restorers? I can revive that old family trunk or repurpose it into something different, like a bar! I love preserving family legacy. Send an email with a few pics and measurements, and I’ll get back to you with a quote.

Now Readers’ Choice 2018 Award

Exciting news, we’ve been awarded First Runner Up for Now Magazines Readers’ Choice for Best Design Firm in Toronto! And we’re in good company too… The Arts Market also shares First Runner Up for Best Unique Gift Store.

Thank you to everyone who voted. ❤️

Furniture. Lighting. Custom Designs.

AJ’s Antique Revival is your local source for ethically salvaged live edge creations, quality reclaimed furniture, antiques, vintage, lighting and restoration services.

Ask about our custom design solutions for storage and shelving.

Vintage finds available in our 2 showrooms in the Arts Market in Leslieville and Riverside neighbourhood in Toronto, 1114 & 790 Queen St. East.  It’s the perfect place to shop for things you didn’t even know you wanted. Go on a treasure hunt and have fun, cool finds await! Find that beautiful piece that brings the perfect rustic touch into your space or get some inspiration and let AJ make you something beautiful.


Come follow AJ on her adventures, as she creates, restores and customizes her way through Toronto. Do you have a project in mind? Grandma’s trunk need a refresh? Need to organize a space with custom shelving? Give AJ a shout! She’d love to work with you.


It’s All About the Patina

Furniture should be functional and inviting. It should tell a story, spark conversation, and should definitely be something that can stand the test of time and be passed down to generations.
I love to rework pieces and bring back their functionality. The ideal restoration job for me, is one where the patina is preserved and the piece is protected for years of enjoyment. It’s that rustic approach to restoration and repurposing that really gets my creative juices flowing. It’s not about sanding the antique wood down to the bare bones and making it brand new, its about breathing new life into a piece and letting its flaws or marks show history and be points of enjoyment.

My reclaimed and repurposed pieces always tend to fall somewhere in between a masculine and feminine genre. For example, pairing cold cast iron piping with soft painted mason jars, my pipe lighting designs are great for any space. The vintage industrial style makes them a lighting statement rather than just a standard lamp. It’s that yin & yang that I also bring to my furniture design, interior decorating and custom work too. I am always pairing clean lines and versatility with rustic influences.

If you are looking for a specific something, have an idea in mind, need a piece reworked or have one you want to part with, give me a shout!



Processed with Moldiv
Trunk Restoration

photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

Processed with Moldiv
Original Lighting Designs