The Oxford Theatre c. 1937, shortly after it was renovated. City of Toronto Archives, Series 1178 fl.436
Located at 1510-1512 Danforth Avenue, the Oxford Theatre opened in 1928. It was one of a string of movie theatres that lined Toronto’s busy east-west arterial road. The Danforth was a magnet for movie houses due to the extensive residential areas located both north and south of it. The Oxford, located between Monarch Park and Coxwell Avenue, was one of the theatres that drew patrons from these communities.
The Oxford was an independent theatre, built by J.E. Wainwright. The building consisted of three storeys, with residential apartments on the second and third floors. When it was built, there were retail shops on either side of the entrance. I was unable to discover when these shops were removed.
The symmetrical brick facade contained no ornamentations, other than several rows of bricks inserted into the facade vertically to create a pattern. These were located between the second and third floors. The cornice was plain, with chimney-like projections at regular intervals. It possessed slightly more than 800 seats, on a concrete floor, the box office located to the right of the lobby. The air-conditioning was installed by Canadian Air Conditioning Company.
The Oxford was renovated in May 1937 by the well-known architects Kaplan and Sprachman. The marquee was altered and became rectangular in shape, with a clock positioned above it. An illuminated sign was also added to the roof of the theatre that advertised the name “Oxford.”
In 1942, the theatre changed hands and was operated by B&F Theatres.
The Oxford Theatre in 1936 before the renovations of 1937. The old marquee is evident.
Streetcar tracks being repaired along the Danforth in the 1936. The Oxford Theatre is visible on the left.
The Oxford Theatre in 1937, with the new rectangular marquee. Photo, City of Toronto Archives, TTC Collection, 1833.
The building after the Oxford Theatre closed and it was renovated to contain shops. The windows on the second floor have been altered, the patterned row of bricks is no longer evident and the chimney-like projections above the cornice have been removed. Photo from the City of Toronto Archives.
To view the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/
A link to view posts that explore Toronto’s Heritage Buildings:
A link to view previous posts about the movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern.
The publication entitled, “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen,” was written by the author of this blog. It 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 by the author and others who experienced these grand old movie houses.
To place an order for this book:
Book also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop, and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)
Another book, published by Dundurn Press, containing 80 of Toronto’s old movie theatres will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.” It contains over 125 archival photographs.
A second publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London, England) explores 75 of the city’s heritage sites. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.