Tony De Gaetano, owner of La Toscana Ristorante on Main Street, says that what first attracted him to the area was the old building where he now operates his restaurant. De Gaetano, who’s originally from Florence, says the stonework reminded him of his native Italy and he promptly fell in love with the place. From the beginning he says he was intent on preserving as much of the original structure as he could. De Gaetano opened his business in 1998 at the former site of what was once an 1864 inn, the Thompson House Hotel. Today La Toscana is known for its delicious entrees, appetizers and seafood – all made from fresh produce – as well as its oyster and martini bar. The interior and exterior of the restaurant is an attraction as well. Outside people can enjoy a beautiful patio enclosed by plants. Inside, restaurant goers can sit at tables adorned with orchids or view the original stonework. “The decorations are complimented by the natural stuff which is stone,” he explains.
The dining room of The Thompson House became a popular entertainment centre in mid 1900’s when the new stone hotel was built for Charles H. Thompson in 1847. It was the second hotel built within a year in Milton, which then had a population of only 905. The original building was a three storey stone structure with 14 large bedrooms, 4 parlours, a dining room, spacious halls and a cellar, The same construction crew built the Milton Town Hall the following year. The Thompson family operated the hotel until 1880 when it was purchased by the Zimmerman family, In the 1890’s the hotel was widely known as the Temperance House when it was leased by supporters of the Temperance movement and the Scott Act which was in force in Halton County. Several operators met with little success during this period.
In the photo above (ca. 1907) the complex was known as the New Royal Hotel, operated by Forgie Martin. The livery stables on the right were replaced in 1911 by the building presently east of Thompson House. In 1920 the building was purchased by the Farmers’ Co-op and converted to offices, apartments and a restaurant. A faint reference to the Thompson family is still visible along the front face just below the third floor windows.