This real estate photo from the Toronto Archives (Series 1278, File 97) was taken in October 1963, when the building where the La Plaza Theatre was located was for sale for $165,000. View looks west along Queen Street.
The plans for the La Plaza Theatre were submitted to the City of Toronto in February 1915, as a venue for live theatre and silent movies. It was located at 735 Queen Street East, on the south side of the street, a short distance east of Broadview Avenue, near Lewis Street. The La Plaza contained a stage and an orchestra circle. Space for musicians was required as the theatre offered vaudeville and background music was necessary for the silent films. Its auditorium contained 560 seats and in the balcony a further 303. On either side of the stage, there were two box seats, each containing six chairs.
The three-storey red-brick building contained residential apartments on the second and third floors, and shops on either side of the entrance that faced Queen Street East. Patrons entered the theatre through a narrow foyer, which led to a small inner lobby.
The La Plaza remained a highly popular theatre on the vaudeville circuit throughout the 1930s, but as films became the rage, it was primarily a movie theatre. In October 1948, the rear row of seats were removed to install a candy bar.
During the years it acquired various names—the Acropolis, the Dundas, and the Cinema Ellis. The source for this information was www.theoperahousehistory.com/history.php. It was for sale in 1963, and perhaps this was when it was purchased and became the Opera House. I have been unable to confirm this fact, but it was during the 1960s that its name was changed. Today, it still operates as a theatre for live concerts, with a capacity of over 800 seats.
A sketch of the interior of the La Plaza, showing the orchestra circle, stage, and box seats.
The entrance to the La Plaza Theatre in 1946. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2042
View from the balcony of the La Plaza. This photo was likely taken in the 1950s, when the theatre was strictly a movie house. The box seats have been removed. Photo Ontario Archives, AO 2041.
View of the auditorium from the stage, Ontario Archives AO 2040, c. 1950
Lobby of the La Plaza, with a large popcorn machine. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2043
The foyer of the la Plaza c. 1956.
The La Plaza after it became The opera House. (Photo taken September 2014.)
View of the east facade of the La Plaza on Lewis Avenue (left photo), and the same view in 2014 (right-hand photo).
View of the entrance to the Opera House in 2014, with its own distinctive marquee.
The box office, which is original though it has been renovated, and the doors of the theatre, which date at least to the 1930s.
The old doors on the left-hand side of the entrance of the La Plaza, which is today the Opera House, and the mosaic tiles at the base of the doors that are perhaps from when the theatre was built in 1915.
The well-worn mosaic tiles at the base of the doors, a touch of decorative elegance from the former days of the La Plaza Theatre.
View of the outer foyer of the theatre in 2014. The mosaic tiles are visible from the old days of the La Plaza Theatre.
The outer foyer and the mosaic tiles on the floor. (Photo taken 2014).
The south facade of the Opera House in September of 2014.
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Recent publication entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” by the author of this blog.
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