top of page

A Brief History of Condominiums

Although hotly debated, some scholars believe that the condo concept was inspired by cluster
housing found in the early Roman Empire. The word condominium is Latin, and said to be derived
from inscriptions “condominio”, meaning joint ownership, etched on marble doorways dating to
circa 100 AD. In ancient Roman cities of Ostia and Pompeii, archeologists have discovered ruins of
3-5-storey high-rise buildings containing multiple separate dwellings called,"Insulae" These
individual apartments were occupied by working people and families who most likely rented, but
some enjoyed an indirect form of ownership with a life-lease which could be passed on.


In modern times, in the 1700’s in Europe, threads of common ownership emerge in Belgium and
Hungary. The first condominium in USA, was the brainchild of a young Utah lawyer named Keith
Romney,(yes, a distant relative to presidential candidate Mitt Romney).He was hired by developers
wanting to sub-divide a stately mansion, Graystone Manor, and add flanking apartment blocks. In
1960, Romney successfully lobbied the government and spearheaded the passing of the first state
Condominium Act. In Canada, condominiums first appeared in 1967 in Edmonton, (Brentwood
Village)and Ottawa(Horizon House). Early developers were the Minto and the Delzotto families,
both companies still flourishing. From ancient beginnings, condos are currently booming. Toronto
has the largest number of new condominium developments of any city in the world. About one in
three of every real estate transaction in the GTA is a condo. Inspired by the Romans , adopted by
developers around the world, condominiums are here to stay. They came, they saw, they

Helping you stay informed.

Lynn Tribbling

Sales Representative,
Right at Home Realty, Brokerage

bottom of page