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Tag Archives: Danforth Avenue toronto

Toronto’s old Clyde (Avalon) Theatre

The Clyde (Avalon) theatre was built in the years after the Prince Edward Viaduct (Bloor Viaduct) was constructed across the Don Valley in 1919. During the 1920s, Danforth Avenue became the site of numerous movie theatres that were within easy walking distance of the neighbourhoods to the north and south of it. Though these theatres originally screened recently released films, as streetcar service improved along the Bloor/Danforth line, some patrons preferred to travel downtown to the larger theatres. In order to compete, many of the theatres along the Danforth began to feature double-bill shows of films that were a year or two old. However, those who wished to view more recent Hollywood releases without travelling downtown attended the Palace or Allen’s Danforth.

One of the popular smaller theatres on The Danforth was the Clyde. Located at 2923 Danforth Avenue, it was on the southeast corner of Luttrell and Danforth Avenue, one block west of Victoria Park. Built for Mr. F. Moss in 1926, it  lacked a balcony, but contained two aisles and almost 500 seats, installed by the Canadian Office and School Furniture Company. The seats were of wood, on a concrete floor, and there was no air conditioning. 

The architects were Kaplan and Sprachman, who designed many theatres in Toronto, including the Allenby at 1219 Danforth Avenue. The Clyde was a two storey structure, with offices, a rewind room, and the projection booth on the second floor. The marquee was a simple structure in a pre-Art Deco style that protruded over the sidewalk. There was a shop on theatre’s east side that was rented to defray the costs of operating the theatre.  

In 1930, the Clyde’s name was changed to the Avalon. In 1936, it was licensed to Max Stein, who also managed the theatre. In 1937, air conditioning was installed. Further changes occurred in 1943, when the store on its east side was removed and the seats in the auditorium were reconfigured. In 1949, the seats were again improved by the same firm as had installed them in 1926. In 1950, the box office was relocated closer to the sidewalk. I was unable to discover when the Avalon closed, but it was likely in the mid-1950s.    

               Map of 2923 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4C 1M4

              Google map showing the location of the Clyde (Avalon) Theatre.

Note: Despite the information in the Toronto Archives, I was unable to locate a photo of the Clyde (Avalon) in either the Toronto or Ontario Archives. I discovered a photo on the internet that was labelled as the Avalon, but it was actually of the Allenby, also on the Danforth. If anyone has a photo of the Arcadian that they are willing to share, please contact me at tayloronhistory@gmail.com

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

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 relates anecdotes and stories of the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[1]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Store and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791

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), the Photodrome, 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)

 

 

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Toronto’s old Grover Theatre

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The Grover Theatre in the 1920s, gazing east along Danforth Avenue. City of Toronto Archives, Series 488, File 2960-2

The Grover Theatre opened its doors in the early 1920s, its name derived from the local telephone exchange. The above photo was taken shortly after its opening. Located at 2714 Danforth Road, it was on the north side of the street, west of Dawes Road. It was a two-storey structure, with apartments on the second floor that contained large windows looking out on busy Danforth Avenue. The Grover’s symmetrical neoclassical facade was relatively unadorned, including the cornice, but stone trim in a few selected places gave it an impressive appearance. The stone trim below the cornice contained a row of dentils. Shops on either side of the theatre’s entrance were part of the building; they were rented to provide extra income for the theatre’s owner.

The district was economically booming in the 1920s, after the Prince Edward Viaduct was completed across the Don Valley in 1919. When the Grover opened, there was already a row of theatres stung out along the Danforth, and it was the most easterly of them at that time. Being an attractive venue, and appealing mainly to local residents, the Grover was immediately successful. Its marquee was unpretentious, which suited a theatre of its size. However, the sign above the marquee was disproportionately large, visible for a considerable distance at night when the towering structure pierced the night sky.

The theatre became a part of the B&F chain in the 1930s. I did not discover much information about this theatre in the archives. However, there is a report that in 1935 three lads attended a Saturday matinee during their summer holidays to see Gary Cooper in the Paramount Studio’s film, “Lives of the Bengal Lancers.” Apparently the film made a lasting impression, since years later, the boys remembered seeing the film at the Grover. Many of us who attended Toronto’s old movie theatres forever link certain films to specific movie houses. Personally, I will forever associate “Gone With the Wind” with Loew’s Downtown (the Elgin).

In May 1963, the theatre was for sale for $70,000. It did not sell, so in 1965 it was again placed on the market at the reduced selling price of $52,000. In this year, it had already closed and the canopy was devoid of advertisements for movies. The theatre was purchased as a place of worship for a church congregation. Finally, it was converted into a nightclub. It is difficult to determine how much of the original building remained after it was renovated for this purpose. Likely, only the walls were retained.

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The Grover Theatre in 1939, its bright lights splitting the night scene on the Danforth. In this year, the marquee had been enlarged from the days when the theatre opened in the 1920s and the sign above it also altered. City of Toronto Archives, Series 880, File 350.

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                       The theatre when it became an evangelical church.

Grover

The theatre when it was for sale for $52,900 in 1965. It was no longer screening films when this real estate photo was taken.

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                  The site of the Grover after it became a nightclub.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts on this blog about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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Toronto’s old Allenby (Roxy, Apollo) Theatre on the Danforth

Allenby 1113-116

           The Allenby Theatre in 1936, City of Toronto Archives, 1113-116

The Allenby Theatre was at 1219 Danforth Avenue, near Greenwood Avenue. Because I knew that the building where this venerable theatre was located still  existed, on a hot summer day in 2013, I travelled on the subway to find it. Having always resided in the west end of Toronto, I had rarely ventured any great distance to the east of Yonge Street.

After exiting the subway at the Greenwood Station, I walked west along the Danforth. I was intrigued and delighted with the streetscape, as the shops, cafes and restaurants were interesting and inviting. However, I must admit that locating the old theatre was the highlight of my trip. When I saw the theatre, I was amazed to discover that its facade and box office remained attractive and in excellent condition. They appeared not to have changed since as the day they were built.

The Allenby commenced its life in 1936. It was designed by Kaplan and Sprachman, the prolific architects who created about 75 percent of the theatres constructed in Canada between 1921 and 1950. The Allenby is one of the finest theatres that they designed in the Art Deco style. The symmetrical yellow-brick facade has strong vertical lines, employing raised bricks to divide the facade into sections. In the cornice at the top, the sections are capped with stone. In typical Art Deco style, the cornice has rounded shapes and corners. A central column of stone rises from the canopy and extends up to the cornice. The overall effect is that of simple elegance. The canopy over the entrance is large, but it does not obscure the facade and detract from the over-all design. The entrance contains an attractive box office, and on either side of it are shops that in their day were rented to offset the costs of operating the theatre.

The  auditorium of the Allenby contained 775 seats, in a pattern of eight on either side and fifteen in the centre section. There was no balcony. In 1942, the theatre received permission to allow 25 patrons to stand at the rear of the theatre, behind the centre section. The air-conditioning consisted of water-washed air, typical of the era.

In the late-1930s, the theatre inaugurated a children’s movie club—the Pop Eye Club. For the price of 10 cents, children saw two feature films, a newsreel, and two “Popeye the Sailor” cartoons. In the cartoons, Popeye attained magical strength after gulping a tin of spinach. The Pop Eye Club commenced at 1 p.m. each Saturday. At these matinees, children were able to purchase a soda pop and a big bag of candy for 5 cents. Surely this deal was enough to make any kid swallow a tin of spinach. 

I located only one complaint against the theatre in the files at the Toronto Archives. In 1947, someone observed that the matrons on duty were not in uniform. This infraction of the rules was officially investigated.

The name of the Allenby was eventually changed to the Roxy. The movie “The Rocky Horror Show’ was screened there before it moved to the Bloor Theatre. For a brief period, the theatre enjoyed considerable success. Unfortunately, the Roxy was unable to compete with the popularity of TV and it eventually was closed. For a few years it was named the Apollo and screened Greek films. But this too was unsuccessful.

The building was vacant for a few years and in danger of being demolished. However, it was declared a heritage site in 2007. The building was finally became the location of a coffee shop. Today, to enter the shop, customers pass under the magnificent canopy of the old Allenby and view the box office, where in former decades, eager patrons purchased theatre tickets.

1278-15  SC 488-1117   dated 1935

The Allenby in 1935. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278-15, SC 488-1117.

Allenby, 1119-116

Lobby of the Allenby, its Art Deco designs evident in the ceiling. City of Toronto Archives, 1119-116.

1278-15  AO 2259

Auditorium of the Allenby, City of Toronto Archives,1278-15 (AO 2259)

AO 2258

Entrance and box office of the Allenby. The film “Up Goes Maisie” is displayed on the marquee. The movie was released in 1946. Photo from the Ontario Archives, AO 2258.

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The former box office and entrance to the coffee shop in 2013.

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Details on the theatre’s facade (photo taken in 2013).

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Centre column of stone that rises from above the marquee, upward to the cornice. (Photo, 2013)

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The canopy on the north facade, facing Danforth Avenue, and a portion of the west facade that reveals the original yellow colour of the bricks.

May 21, 2013

The restored Allenby, which now contains a coffee shop, during the summer of 2013. Similar to when the theatre opened, there is a gasoline station on the west side of the theatre.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                      cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

   To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

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)

 

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Toronto’s old movie theatres—the Danforth Music Hall (Allan’s Danforth)

                      DSCN8253

The Danforth Music Hall, at 147 the Danforth, is located on the south side of the street, a short distance east of Broadview Avenue. It is one of Toronto’s oldest surviving theatres, having opened in 1919 as Allen’s Danforth Theatre. In the decade when it opened, there was much opposition the movie theatres, as many people viewed them as places of doubtful moral standards. This was likely because most movie theatres were originally vaudeville or burlesque houses, which often featured comedians who told risqué jokes. As a result, it was common for clergymen to declare that it was sinful to attend theatres. To create an degree of respectability, the owners of the theatres referred to their films as “photo plays,” linking them to the legitimate stage performances of the day. This was never truly effective. Even in the late-1930s, many churches continued their opposition to movie theatres.   

In 1918, when the Prince Edward Viaduct was completed across the Don Valley, the Danforth area on the east side of the valley was more accessible from the downtown. This was greatly assisted by the extension of streetcar service, continuous from Bloor Street, across the Prince Edward Viaduct, to the Danforth.

The Allen brothers, two enterprising young businessmen, arrived in Toronto in 1915. They opened the Allen Theatre (later renamed the Tivoli) on Richmond Street in 1917. The Allen was one of the city’s grandest and most popular movie theatres. Having acquired success with this theatre, the brothers sought another location to expand their theatre business. They knew that residential development was expanding into the Danforth area after the Prince Edward Viaduct had been completed, and decided to be among the first to offer the new form of entertainment—photo plays. In 1919, they opened the Allen Danforth Theatre at 147 Danforth Avenue.

The historic plaque on the theatre states that it was advertised as, “Canada’s First Super Photoplay Palace.” The records in the Toronto Archives reveal that the theatre opened as a vaudeville house and screened silent films. It converted to sound films in 1929. 

The architects were Hynes, Feldman and Watson, who were part of the firm of Howard Crane of Detroit, who designed the Allen (Tivoli) and the Bloor Theatres. The 1600-seat Allen’s Danforth was taken over by Famous Players in 1923, and was renamed the Century. During the 1970s, the theatre screened Greek films, and it was know as the Titania.  In 1978, it was renamed the Danforth Music Hall, offering live stage performance. However, a roll-down screen allowed it to also show movies.

Allen's dan. Fonds 1231, Item 712

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1231, It. 712) is one of the earliest pictures of the Allen’s Danforth Theatre. It was likely taken the year the theatre opened or shortly thereafter. The streetcar tracks can be seen along the Danforth, and the land to the east of the theatre remains undeveloped and has a car parked on it.

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This photo was taken in the spring of 2013, the Allan’s Danforth now renamed The Danforth Music Hall. The picture reveals the slight ornamentation that adorns the building’s facade.

AO 1997 DSCN1750

The lobby in the late 1940s, when the theatre was named the Century. Photo from Ontario Archives, AO 1997. The movie displayed on the poster in the lobby is “The Hit Parade of 1947,” directed by Frank McDonald, starring Eddie Albert, Constance Moore and Joan Edwards. 

AO 1998

                  Auditorium of the theatre (Ontario Archives AO 1998)

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Detailing of the theatre, and the stylized initials—AT (Allan’s Theatre). Photo taken in 2013.

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Detailing around the second and third-storey windows above the marquee                 

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                  Entrance of the Danforth Music Hall in 2013 (previously Allan’s Danforth and the Century)

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

To view previous blogs about Toronto’s heritage buildings and the city’s history:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852[2]

                To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

      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)

 

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Toronto’s old Palace movie theatre on the Danforth

Palace, 1948, OA 2161-6

The magnificent Palace Theatre at 664 Danforth Avenue was a few doors west of the northeast corner of Danforth and Pape. The above photo from the Ontario Archives (AO 2161-6) was taken in 1948, when the film “Cheyenne” was advertised on the marquee. The movie starred Dennis Morgan and Jane Wyman.

A copy of the opening night program for the theatre survives in the City of Toronto Archives. It reveals that the theatre opened on February 21, 1924. One of the opening night features was the silent film, “Midsummer Madness,” released in 1921, directed by William Churchill de Mille, the older brother of the famous Cecil B. de Mille.  It was a drama starring Jack Holt, Conrad Nagel and Lois Wilson. The film received rave revues for its excellent cinematography. On the same program was the comedy film “My Goodness,” released in 1921, starring a popular slapstick comedian of the 1920s, Louise Fazenda.  The music for the silent films was provided by “Ladies Orchestra,” conducted by Miss Marjorie Stevens. The opening night was a grand success.

The 1575-seat theatre had no balcony. The floor was sloped from the stage area to the back wall, providing excellent sightlines for all the rows. The Tivoli Theatre on Richmond Street had been the first theatre in Toronto to offer this type of seating. It resembled the “stadium seating” of modern theatres, though the slope was more gentle. The loges section at the rear was the designated smoking area, and tickets for this section cost more. However, the seats were plusher than in the other parts of the theatre.

The theatre’s lobby created a grand entranceway to the auditorium as it contained extravagant gold ornamentations. Furniture in the lobby was silver-grey. Marble staircases on the east and west sides gave access to the washrooms on the second floor. The east-west aligned auditorium was parallel to Danforth Avenue, which allowed shops to be built into the south facade of the theatre, without the loss of any interior space. The shops were rented to provide extra income to offset the expenses of the theatre. This was a common practice during the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1937, all matinees at the Palace were 25 cents. In the evenings, from 6:30 pm until 7:30 pm, tickets were 25 cents, but from 7:30 pm until closing they were 32 cents. It cost 40 cents to sit in the lodges. The reduced prices at the early evening hours were an attempt to fill seats at a time that was generally sparsely attended. All these prices included the Ontario Amusement Tax.

I was never inside the Palace Theatre, but I remember its impressive marquee and facade. I often passed it on the Bloor streetcars when travelling along the Danforth. Unfortunately, the theatre closed in 1987, having held on longer than most neighbourhood theatres. It was sadly missed by the residents of the Danforth.

800px-DanforthPapeNECorner1927[1] the Palace, City of T. Archives

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 71, S 0071, It.5484) was taken by the TTC on November 3, 1927. It shows a partial view of the south facade of the Palace Theatre. The marquee was later changed. On the corner is a United Cigar Store. In the 1920s, this chain of shops possessed many locations throughout the city. Next to the theatre is a Jenny Lind candy shop, which was famous for its chocolates. The chain was named after the famous Swedish singer who had once performed at the St. Lawrence Hall.  The streetcar in the photo is a Peter Witt car. They first arrived in Toronto in 1921. The most famous Peter Witt cars were those that travelled on Yonge Street. They remained in service on the city’s main street until the subway was completed in 1954. 

                  Palace 1948 OA 2161-6

The Palace Theatre in 1948, with its new marquee. Photo from the Ontario Archives, AO 2161. This photo reveals the Art Deco style ornamentation on the theatre’s facade.

Palace OA 2160-5

Interior view of the entrance of the Palace Theatre. Ontario Archives, AO 2160.

Palace OA A30611-4  (2)

The auditorium of the Palace, with its sloping floor that extended from near the stage to the rear wall. The ceiling has Wedgewood-style designs and concentric circles, with a chandelier in the centre. The ceiling was similar to that of the Parkside Theatre at Queen and Roncesvalles. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 30611-4

Palace, April 1947, G&M 114209

This photo from the City of Toronto Archives (G&M 114209) was taken in April of 1947. The movie on the marquee is “Big Sleep,” starring the famous duo, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacal. This movie had been released in 1946. The view looks east along the Danforth, from the southwest corner at Pape. The streetcar is a PCC car, first introduced to the city in 1938. Only two of these streetcar remain  in existence today. The remainder of them was sold to Cairo, Egypt.

DSCN8246

The site of the Palace Theatre on the Danforth during the summer of 2013.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous blogs about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

                To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

      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)

 

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Toronto’s old Odeon Danforth Theatre

Odeon Danforth  4

                           Photo, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1278, File 119

The Odeon Danforth Theatre was located at 635 Danforth Avenue, on the south side of the street, a short distance west of Pape Avenue. Similar to the other theatres in the Odeon chain—the Carlton, Humber, Fairlawn and Hyland—the Danforth originally featured mainly British film. When the theatre opened its doors on April 16, 1948, Toronto was enjoying the postwar economic boom, and no section of the economy benefitted more than the theatre industry. Families had been reunited after the men returned from Europe and the Pacific front. They wished to forget the hardships of the war years, and going to the movies was a favourite past-time. The film on the marquee in the above photo, taken on opening night, had been released in 1947. It was a gripping melodrama.

Theatres had existed on the site of the Odeon Danforth prior to the Odeon chain purchasing the property—the Rex and the Athena Palace. The new Odeon Theatre was designed by Jay English. It contained 852 seats in the auditorium and a further 476 in the balcony. Because I lived in the west end of Toronto, I was never inside the Odeon Danforth. I rarely ever travelled east of Yonge Street, which was the great divide. However, I was aware of it, as I had seen its name in the newspaper ads when I was checking to determine what was playing at other Odeon Theatres.

DSCN4162   DSCN4163

These ads appeared in the Toronto Star on February 16, 1952. The Odeon Carlton was still referred to as the Odeon Toronto. The ad also reveals that the Christie Theatre was a part of the Odeon chain. The year 1952, when the above ad appeared, was when the popularity of the city’s movie theatres was at its height. The following year, TV sets were purchased by the thousands across Toronto to view the Coronation. It was the beginning of the end for many theatres, particularly those in local neighbourhoods.

In 1964, at the Odeon Danforth, faulty wiring caused the popcorn machine at the concession stand to catch fire. Patrons were immediately evacuated. The theatre passed out 587 free tickets for a return visit, although 13 people requested refunds. The damage was minimal, mostly caused by the thick smoke, but the repair bill was $50,000. In March 1965, another fire occurred in the balcony, caused by a cigarette butt smouldering in a seat. The seat was removed, cut open, and thrown into a snow bank outside the theatre. The disturbance was minimal. 

Unfortunately, I have not been able to discover the exact year that the Odeon Danforth closed, but it was likely in the late-1960s or early 1970s. The building was renovated to accommodate other commercial purposes, and today contains an Extreme Fitness outlet. Roger Smith of Toronto informed me that the interior of the theatre remains basically intact. He vividly recalls viewing the film “Jaws” in the theatre in 1975.

Dec. 1950, Odeon Danforth

The notation on this photo from the City of Toronto Archives (Series 1278, file 119) states that this photo was taken in 1950. If this is accurate, then the Odeon Danforth was screening films that were quite old—“Cavalcade” was released in 1933 and “On Approval” in 1944.  This was confirmed by Roger Smith of Toronto, who remembers that the theatre had difficulty renting more up-to-date films. The view in the above photo looks east along the Danforth. The eastbound PCC streetcar is stopped at Pape Avenue. The marquee of the Palace Theatre is visible on the north (left-hand side) of the street.

Odeon Danforth -  AO 2141

Lobby of the Odeon Danforth and stairs leading to the balcony. Photo, Ontario Archives, AO 2141

Odeon Danforth   AO 2142   2

            Auditorium of the Odeon Danforth. Photo, Ontario Archives 2142

                                  Odeon Danforth (3)

The site of the Odeon Danforth in 2013, at 635 Danforth Avenue.

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The bank on the right in the photo is the building that was next door(west side) of the Odeon Danforth, and the large brown-brick building across the road on the left (north side of Danforth Avenue) is where the Palace Theatre was located.

Odeon Danforth (2)

The bank on the west side of the Odeon Danforth in the summer of 2013. The site of the theatre was to the east of it.

To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

To view previous posts about other movie houses of Toronto—old and new

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/links-to-toronto-old-movie-housestayloronhistory-com/

To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/links-to-historic-architecture-of-torontotayloronhistory-com/

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.  

                           cid_E474E4F9-11FC-42C9-AAAD-1B66D852

                To place an order for this book:

https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502 .

      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)

 

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