203, Dundas Street was originally the Hawthorn Hotel, one of the few hotels in London to appear on Dundas Street. Before the era of the automobile, hotels in London were more likely to be located in the main business districts and close to the train station in the downtown core. As a result, many hotels in London during this era were found in the Market areas, on the major thoroughfares of York and Richmond or on tram routes. In 1895, the London Street Railway sold its horses and converted its trams to electricity. Service on the lines increased, as did business on these streets, and a new profession, the motorman who operated the electric tram, was created.
The Hawthorn Hotel was important for this city in that it was on one of the major tram routes. It was also the first hotel to offer an à la carte menu in its restaurant. In 1881, the Hawthorn Hotel advertised the "European Restaurant" at street level as a place where "you can order what your fancy dictates—paying only for what you get— and not being compelled, as in ordinary Hotels, to dine at a fixed hour, and to take just whatever they choose to give you" (White's London City Directory, 1881-82).
For a number of years 203, Dundas also housed Rowland Hill, the shoe shop all Londoners seem to remember because of their fantastic downstairs play area where you had your feet x-rayed to demonstrate a good fit. Today 203, Dundas houses the Arts Project and is an excellent example of how to repurpose a heritage building for the benefit of the arts and culture.