The Esquire Theatre at 2290 Bloor Street West, c. 1937. City of Toronto Archives, SC 488-1149
The Esquire Theatre was a small neighbourhood theatre that was built for Mr. R. Luxton. Located on the north side of Bloor Street West, it was a few doors east of Durie Street. When it opened in 1926, it was named the Lyndhurst. The architects were Kaplan and Sprachman, who designed the theatre in the Art Deco style. The facade facing Bloor Street was symmetrical, with few architectural ornamentations, though the cornice contained simple brick patterns. The box office was originally inside the lobby, but was later relocated to the edge of the sidewalk, as seen on the 1937 photo. On the second floor were residential apartments. Three of the windows of the apartments possessed stone trim above them.
The Lyndhurst (Esquire) Theatre contained about 500 seats, with leather bottoms and mohair backs. When it opened, it was considered quite luxurious and attracted many patrons from the surrounding Jane/Bloor West area. It did not have a balcony. Its name was changed to the Esquire about the year 1937. In 1950, the back two rows of seats in the auditorium were removed to allow a candy bar to be installed.
I chatted with a cousin of mine who remembers attending Saturday afternoon matinees at the Esquire regularly in the early-1950s. In that decade, his family lived in Malton and there was no local theatre that was convenient to attend. However, West York Coach Lines maintained regular service between Malton and the intersection of Bloor and Jane Streets. Once a week, my cousin and his friends hopped on the bus and travelled to the city to go to the Esquire. The Bowery Boys films were among their favourite attractions. On one occasion, one of my cousin’s friends stole a flashlight from a store on Bloor Street, as flashing a light around in the darkened theatre to annoy others was considered great fun for a twelve-year-old. However, he discovered that there were no batteries in the flashlight, so returned to the shop after the matinee to steal some. He was caught, and an embarrassing scene ensued. My cousin remembers the incident to this day.
The theatre closed in 1955 and was renovated for other commercial enterprises. Today (2014) there is an outlet of a well-known drugstore chain on the site.
A rough sketch of the facade of the Lyndhurst Theatre in 1926, from the files of M. Sprachman. City of Toronto Archives. The box office was in the lobby, behind the three doors.
The site of the Esquire theatre, that is now a Shoppers Drug Mart.
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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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