The Eclipse Building at 322-324 King Street West, on the northeast corner of John and King West.
The building that was constructed for the Eclipse White Wear Company at 322-324 King Street West, is on the west side of the Princess of Wales Theatre. This warehouse has an historic plaque on its southwest corner that commemorates the York Hospital, an early-day medical facility in the town of York, prior to it being incorporated as a city in 1834 and its name changed to Toronto.
After the military hospital at Fort York closed, following the War of 1812, the town was without a hospital. Funds were eventually secured and in 1824, a hospital was opened on the northwest corner of John and King Street West, adjacent to where the Eclipse White Wear Company warehouse was built almost a century later. TIFF’s Bell Lightbox is on the site today. The York Hospital was a modest two-storey, red-brick structure with space for about 100 patients. However, almost immediately it was requisitioned by the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (Ontario) as a place to hold its sessions, as its premises had been destroyed by fire.
After regaining the premises for medical purposes, the hospital continued to play an important role in the history of the city. During the summer of 1847, over 800 Irish immigrants disembarked from ships at the foot of Simcoe Street. They were a part of a mass migration from Ireland that fled their native isle to escape the poverty and disease caused by the failure of the potato crop during the summer of 1845. Many of them became infected with cholera during their long Atlantic voyage. Because the York Hospital was unable to cope with the number of ill patients, the city built “fever sheds,” as they were known, on the land surrounding the hospital. There were about a dozen of these sheds, each one over 70’ long and 25’ wide. The immigrants who were healthy were encouraged to leave the city as soon as possible as people feared they might be carriers of the disease. Those who were sick were treated either in the York Hospital or in the fever sheds. The sick were allowed to stay in the fever sheds for a maximum of 6 days, and fed three-quarters of a pound of meat and bread daily. Those who survived were sent to a convalescent home, located at Bathurst and Front Streets. Most of those who died were buried beside St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church at Queen and Power Streets. Bishop Michael Power died of cholera administering to the sick, and was buried in St. Michael’s Cathedral. Note: most of this information was obtained from the historic plaques erected by Heritage Toronto on King Street West.
As mentioned, the Eclipse Building of today is located across the street from where the fever sheds had been erected. The four-storey Eclipse building, with a basement level that is partially above ground, was built in 1903 as a warehouse and factory for the manufacture of ladies and children’s underwear, or as they were known at the time—“unmentionables.” The building was designed by Gregg and Gregg, and has two-foot thick support walls with exceptionally thick structural timbers, able to withstand the heavy weight of the machines required to produce the finished products of cloth that the company manufactured and sold. The south facade of the Eclipse building is symmetrical, the windows on the fourth level having Roman arches. There are very few architectural adornments, although there is patterned brickwork below the cornice. However, any attractiveness that the building possesses is obscured by the white paint that covers its exterior walls. The building was renovated in 1970 by the firm of A. J. Diamond and Barton Myers. It remains today as one of the venerable industrial buildings on King West that has survived for over a century.
The first-floor level of the Eclipse Building, with its impressive entrance that has supports that are a version of Doric columns.
The south facade of the building, facing King Street West.
Patterned brickwork beneath the plain cornice.
The impressive doorway with an elaborate version of Doric columns.
The Eclipse Building, with its south facade on King Street and its west facade on John Street. The Princess of Wales Theatre is to the east of the building. Photo taken 2013.
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To view previous blogs about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern
Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog. The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.
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Theatres Included in the Book:
Chapter One – The Early Years—Nickelodeons and the First Theatres in Toronto
Theatorium (Red Mill) Theatre—Toronto’s First Movie Experience and First Permanent Movie Theatre, Auditorium (Avenue, PIckford), Colonial Theatre (the Bay), thePhotodome, Revue Theatre, Picture Palace (Royal George), Big Nickel (National, Rio), Madison Theatre (Midtown, Capri, Eden, Bloor Cinema, Bloor Street Hot Docs), Theatre Without a Name (Pastime, Prince Edward, Fox)
Chapter Two – The Great Movie Palaces – The End of the Nickelodeons
Loew’s Yonge Street (Elgin/Winter Garden), Shea’s Hippodrome, The Allen (Tivoli), Pantages (Imperial, Imperial Six, Ed Mirvish), Loew’s Uptown
Chapter Three – Smaller Theatres in the pre-1920s and 1920s
Oakwood, Broadway, Carlton on Parliament Street, Victory on Yonge Street (Embassy, Astor, Showcase, Federal, New Yorker, Panasonic), Allan’s Danforth (Century, Titania, Music Hall), Parkdale, Alhambra (Baronet, Eve), St. Clair, Standard (Strand, Victory, Golden Harvest), Palace, Bedford (Park), Hudson (Mount Pleasant), Belsize (Crest, Regent), Runnymede
Chapter Four – Theatres During the 1930s, the Great Depression
Grant ,Hollywood, Oriole (Cinema, International Cinema), Eglinton, Casino, Radio City, Paramount, Scarboro, Paradise (Eve’s Paradise), State (Bloordale), Colony, Bellevue (Lux, Elektra, Lido), Kingsway, Pylon (Royal, Golden Princess), Metro
Chapter Five – Theatres in the 1940s – The Second World War and the Post-War Years
University, Odeon Fairlawn, Vaughan, Odeon Danforth, Glendale, Odeon Hyland, Nortown, Willow, Downtown, Odeon Carlton, Donlands, Biltmore, Odeon Humber, Town Cinema
Chapter Six – The 1950s Theatres
Savoy (Coronet), Westwood
Chapter Seven – Cineplex and Multi-screen Complexes
Cineplex Eaton Centre, Cineplex Odeon Varsity, Scotiabank Cineplex, Dundas Square Cineplex, The Bell Lightbox (TIFF)
To place an order for this book: