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Tag Archives: Yonge Street Toronto

Toronto’s architectural gems—the old Dominion Bank at Yonge and Gerrard

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The old Dominion Bank Building at 380 Yonge Street, on the southwest corner of Yonge and Gerrard Streets is one of the most elegant banks ever built in Toronto. It was designed in 1930 by John M. Lyle, who championed the beaux arts style. During past decades, his work enhanced many a street corner in Toronto. The Dominion Bank at Yonge and Gerrard survives today as an attractive location for the “Elephant and Castle Pub.” Judging by their staff, whom I talked with during “Doors Open Toronto,” they enjoy working in a heritage property.

Lyle was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States, but relocated to Toronto in 1905 after learning of the competition for the design of Union Station. He eventually was one of the contributing architects for this grand building. The year prior to Lyle’s arrival in Toronto, much of the city’s downtown had been destroyed by a disastrous fire. Thus, there was a great demand for architects to facilitate the rebuilding. Lyle’s reputation was greatly enhanced when he received the commission to design the Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street. It remains today and is an outstanding example of the city’s early 20th-century architecture.  

The stone ornamentation on the 1930s Dominion Bank includes Greek acanthus leaves and Roman ox skulls, as well as numerous other symbols. The pilasters (decorative columns) attached to the walls on either side of the doorway, are topped with stylized carvings. Other carvings represent Canadian agriculture and industry. There is also a large medallion that has the profile of Queen Victoria. Lyle promoted Canadian designs and symbols that represented our nation’s past.

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        East facade and doorway of the 1930 Dominion Bank

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Decorative details on the building portraying Canadian industry and agriculture.

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Details on the north facade on Gerrard Street, and the carvings atop the pilasters.

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             Medallion showing a profile of Queen Victoria, on the east facade

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                    Ceiling of the banking hall, now the Elephant and Castle Pub.

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                     Details of the ceiling of the banking hall.

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                 The east facade of the bank, facing Yonge Street.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

      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 architectural gems—the Dineen Building on Yonge St.

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The Dineen Building at 140 Yonge Street, on the northwest corner of Yonge and Temperance Street has recently been restored to its former glory. In the 19th century, the site was occupied by the “Dineen Hat and Fur Company,” which relocated to these premises in 1897. The cost of the new premises was $30,000. They maintained their showroom on the first floor, facing Yonge Street, and on the upper floors they manufactured hats and fur coats. Large security safes were installed to store the valuable furs. When the building was recently restored, many of the safes were discovered, covered by drywall.

The Dineen Hat and Fur Company rented out any space in the building that was in excess of their needs. Thus, the building was also an income property. When it opened in 1897, it was in the heart of the retail district of Toronto, which centred around Queen and Yonge Streets, where Eaton’s and Simpson’s department stores were located. At the time, it was one of the most attractive buildings in the downtown area. Having now been restored, it is again a very handsome structure.

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An ad in the Toronto Telegram newspaper of 1897 advertising a special sale. 

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This photo of Yonge Street shows the Dineen Building on the left. The view is looking north on Yonge toward Queen Street, c.1910. The large Romanesque-style building on the right, with the pointed roof, is the Confederation Life Building. This photo is likely from the City of Toronto Archives, but was located on the Wikipedia site.

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The south facade of the Dineen Building, facing Temperance Street. The entrance to the building is particularly impressive, with its Roman archway. The windows are also topped with Roman arches. 

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The entrance to the building on the south side. The recent restoration has meticulously restored the building’s architectural detailing.

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The coffee shop on the ground floor was once the showroom of the Dineen Hat and Fur Company.

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Juliet balconies on the Dineen Building that have been restored.

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An office on the third floor, contained within the rounded brick facade that curves around the corner of Yonge and Temperance Streets. Today, in the Dineen building, it is possible to rent space on a daily basis or for any number of hours a client prefers. This is referred to as “hot-desking.” Is an ideal concept for companies or individuals that require office space within the downtown area for a limited period. The company provides internet and other services that their clients might require. There is also a lounge area in the basement that is suitable for conferences and meetings.

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One of the lager safes that was discovered behind the drywall in the building. It is over 100 years old, so cannot be opened until supervised by the proper historic authorities as it is an artefact. It has remained unopened for 90 years. 

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Interior space in the Dineen building. The heritage property has a warm and inviting atmosphere. These photos were taken on a Saturday during “Doors Open Toronto,”when the office space was in darkness except for the light from the windows.

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The restored Dineen Building is a welcomed addition to the downtown scene, its warm yellow bricks contrasting with the glass and steel towers surrounding it.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 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 architectural gems—Traders Bank on Yonge St.

              61-67 Yonge St.

The impressive early 20th-century building at 61-67 Yonge Street is today somewhat hidden among the soaring skyscrapers of downtown Toronto. However, when it was constructed in 1905, it was the tallest structure in the city. It was the second building in Toronto to be referred to as a “skyscraper,” the first being the eleven-storey Temple Building constructed in 1895, on the northwest corner of Richmond and Bay Streets. The Temple Building has since been demolished. However, the Traders Bank still exists as a reminder of Toronto’s architectural past. It is 15 storeys and for a few years was the highest building in the British Empire. It was the invention of electric elevators that allowed these structures to be built. In their day, they were considered enormously high. Even today, New York City is the only city in the world that has more skyscrapers than Toronto.

The Traders bank was designed by the New York architects Carrere and Hastings, with the assistance of Francis S. Baker. In the years ahead, these architects were to design such architectural Beaux-Arts gems as the New York Public Library. The banking hall of the Traders Bank was two-storeys in height, occupying the second and third floors. The staircase from the ground floor entered the banking hall in the centre of the enormous hall, the tellers’ cages located around the perimeter of the room. This was a new concept in the city, its design considered an impressive sight. The exterior walls of the banking hall have tall rectangular windows with ornate columns decorating the spaces between them.  High at the top, a projecting cornice hides the top floors from being viewed from ground level. This has the effect of making the building appear shorter than it really is and it thus dominates the street less than otherwise. This technique, of setting the top floors back from the base, is now a common feature of many high rise buildings. 

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Ground floor of the Traders Bank and the two-storey banking hall on the second and third floors. The banking hall is not in use today.

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Architectural details on the banking hall. The columns are topped with a ornamented Doric columns.

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This photo from the Toronto Archives shows the Traders Bank in 1912. The protruding cornice on the west facade, over-looking Yonge Street, hides the upper floors from being seen from street level. The construction site beside it is where the CPR Building would eventually rise. The view is looking south on Yonge Street.

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This 1912 photo was taken form atop the Traders Bank. The bank had a commanding view of its surroundings as no other structure was as tall as the bank. The view gazes south, with Yonge Street visible in the lower left-hand corner of the picture. 

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Looking north on Yonge Street in 1910, the Traders Bank on the right-hand side of the photo.

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View of the Traders Bank in May of 2013, looking north on Yonge Street as in the previous photo.

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

      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 architectural gems—the bank building at Yonge and Front Streets

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The former Bank of Montreal building at Yonge and Front Streets is one of the most impressive bank structures ever constructed in Toronto. Built between the years 1885 and 1886, it was designed by the architects Frank Darling and S. G. Curry. Mr. Darling’s offices were located on Leader lane, which today is located on the east side of the King Edward Hotel. Mr. Darling attracted some of the brightest young architects of the decade to his Toronto firm. In 1876, Darling and Curry also designed the Romanesque-style Victoria Sick Children’s Hospital at College and Elizabeth Streets. It the now occupied by the Canadian Blood Services. The present-day hospital is presently located on University Avenue.

The 1880s was a period of great prosperity in Canada, the nation having finally emerged from the economic depression of the previous decade. No place in the country displayed more optimism than Toronto, as its factories boomed and trade increased. The Bank of Montreal at the corner of Yonge and Front Streets reflected that spirit.

The bank was designed as the head office of the Bank of Montreal in Toronto. Its Beaux Arts style is ornately extravagant, its facades displaying ostentatious stonework. It has large rectangular plate glass windows, the columns between the windows rich with wall carvings. The overall design of the bank is an attempt to project a prosperous and secure image. The sculptures were created by Holbrook and Mollington. The cornice contains dentils, a classical design from ancient Greece, commonly found in 19th-century structures throughout the city. The east and south facades have Greek-style pediments.

When the interior banking hall was built, it was said to be the finest in the Dominion. Its enormous 45-foot height has a great dome crowned with stained glass windows that soar impressively above the banking hall. When it was a functioning bank, the west wing of the building contained the manager’s office, a boardroom, and a private apartment. This bank remained the head office of the Bank of Montreal until 1949, but even after the head office was relocated, it remained its most important branch until the mid-1980s. The building has been preserved as today it houses a portion of the collection of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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This was the first Bank of Montreal that was first erected on the northwest corner of Yonge and Front Streets, in 1845. It was demolished to construct the new bank in 1885. Photo is from Arthur Eric’s book, “No Mean City.”

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Yonge and Front Streets looking north up Yonge near the end of the 19th Century. The 1885 Bank of Montreal is on the left-hand side of the photo.

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The Bank of Montreal c. 1900. Photo, City of Toronto Archives. This picture shows the west wing of the building where the private apartment was located.

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The banking hall when the building functioned as a working bank. Photo is from Eric Arthur’s book, “No Mean City.” It was likely taken during the 1950s.

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                      The bank in March of 2013

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                Stone carvings on the facades of the bank building

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Stone carving of an elderly man on the south facade of the old Bank of Montreal

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Door of the west wing that allowed access to the private apartment. The door surround is richly ornamented.

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Main entrance to the building, with its rich wood panelling.  The original doors were removed when the entranceway was modernized.

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                                     The dome above the banking hall.

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Stained glass in the dome (left) and a close-up of the centre piece of the glass dome (right)

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             Banking hall in 2013, containing the displays of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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The old bank building on 18 June 1993, when it was converted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Photo is from the museum’s display. 

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 also relates anecdotes and stories from those 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 .

      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 architectural gems— Brookfield Place

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Between 25 February and 15 March 2013, in Brookfield Place, formerly known as BCE Place, there was a modern sculpture floating high among the arches of the Allan Lamport Galleria. Entitled “Starburst,” it was a collaborative work of Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, who have been cooperating to produce works of art since 2002. Their purpose is to spread the positive message of magic, luck, and friendship. They create art in various mediums—paint and sculpture. As well, they have produced large-scale installations, public playgrounds, published materials, and live performances.  

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           “Starburst,” by Borkson and Sandoval III in Brookfield Place

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                                              Views of “Starburst.”

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Brookfield Place is always an interesting place to visit as there are often fascinating works of art suspended from its vaulted ceiling.  However, even if there are no sculptures on display, the architecture alone is worthwhile viewing, particularly the six-story Allan Lamport Galleria. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it connects the Bay Street entrance with Sam Pollack Square, which opens on to Yonge Street. Brookfield Place is a 5.2 acres complex in downtown Toronto, bounded by Bay Street on the west, Yonge on the east, Wellington Street on the north, and Front Street on the south. The Galleria has sometimes been called a “crystal cathedral of commerce.” In this analogy, the floor space below the arches is the nave. Others have referred to it as an architectural creation of a forest grove, the soaring support pillars representing gigantic trees that soars high into the heavens. No matter how a visitor views this masterful work of architecture, it produces a feeling of awe as one gazes upward toward the skies above the glass panels. The view from the escalator, when one is ascending from the basement level, is particularly inspiring.

There are other reasons to visit Brookfield Place, as it also includes the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the facade of an 1845 bank building that was once located on Wellington Street.

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In the foreground, on the left-hand side of the above photo, the facade of the 1845 bank can be seen. As well, there is a view of Allan Lamport Galleria, looking west. To connect with a post about the Heritage Building, follow the link :

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-19th-century-facade-within-bce-place/

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 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 architectural gems—the Masonic Temple at Davenport and Yonge

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The Masonic Temple, at 888 Yonge Street, was constructed in 1917, during the chaotic days of the First World War. Today, the building is appreciated by those interested in the city’s architectural heritage, but judging by comments posted on the internet, it is viewed by some as an ugly structure of brick and limestone that is not worth preserving. Despite one’s view of the building, it has a rich heritage, and I believe that it is worthy of being saved from demolition. To aid in its preservation,  in 1974 the Masonic Temple was designated a Heritage Property.

Designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival Style by architect W. J. Sparling, the six-storey  structure contains an auditorium that has hardwood flooring and a decorated ceiling. It seats 1200 persons, including the wrap-around gallery. The Masonic Society (Freemasons) included the ballroom/concert hall in their new building as a means to raise revenue from rentals to support the costs of maintaining the premises.

John Ross Robertson (1841-1918) was a prominent Mason, and founder of the now defunct Toronto Telegram newspaper. He was one of the prime motivators behind the construction of the building, located on the northwest corner of Yonge Street and Davenport Road. When the Masons chose this site, a church was located on the property. It was estimated that the cost of the Temple would be $175,000, but by the time it was completed, the cost was $220,864. After the church on the site was demolished, construction began. The final stone for the new Temple was put in place on 17 November 1917 and the structure was consecrated with corn, oil, and wine. The first lodge meeting was held on 1 January 1918.  On the upper floors, which were reserved solely for the use of the Masons, there were patterned tiled flooring and many Masonic carvings.  

During the 1930s, the Masonic Temple was one of the most popular ballrooms in Toronto. Every New Year’s Eve, tickets disappeared long in advance of the date. Bing Crosby once crooned within its walls, and Frank Sinatra hosted an event there. Throughout the years, many famous entertainers have performed in the hall—Tina Turner, The Ramones, David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin, who held their first Toronto concert there in 1969. In 1970, it was leased by a company known as the “Rockpile.” During the 1980s, it was rented by various groups, but the income never exceeded the costs of maintaining the building. In 1998, the property was sold to CTV, for use as a TV studio. The show, “Open Mike with Mike Bullard” was broadcast from the premises. In 2006, it became home to Bell Media (MTV), but they departed in 2012.

During the 1950s, I was in the Masonic Temple on several occasions to attend events. The view from the gallery, looking down onto the stage area was quite impressive. I remember the ornate plaster trim around the auditorium and the ornate carvings that decorated the space. As a teenager, I considered any event held within the walls of the Temple to be a special occasion, especially since the restaurants on Yonge Street were within walking distance. In that decade, the “Pickin’ Chicken,” south of College Street, Fran’s at Yonge and College, and Basil’s Restaurant at Yonge and Gerrard, were the gastronomic highlights of the “the strip.” Walking south from Davenport and Yonge to below College Street was less of a problem for me in those years, especially when my teenage hunger could be satiated by “chicken in a wicker basket with fries” at the PIckin’ Chicken, a toasted club sandwich at Basil’s, or rice pudding at Fran’s. Julia Child, eat your heart out!   

Yonge Street has greatly changed today, although I am not certain that the culinary level of the avenue has improved much. However, the Masonic Temple remains, proudly resisting the onslaught of the modern era. I sincerely hope that a modern role will be found for the building, and that it will not be demolished. It would be a pity to have its ornate facade become a mere shell to add dignity to another faceless high rise condominium of glass and steel, lacking any value beyond the price of the suites per square foot.

                      f1231_it0755[1]  1918

The Masonic Temple in 1918. In this year, Davenport Road, west of Yonge Street, remained a narrow roadway. The shop visible in the bottom, left-hand corner of the photo was demolished when the street was widened. Photo is from the City of Toronto Archives.

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                           The Masonic Temple today.

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The entrance to the Masonic Temple on Yonge Street, its ornate portico containing Doric columns.

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                  Detailed carvings on the southeast corner of the building

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               Corinthian pilaster on the south facade of the Masonic Temple

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

Links to other posts about the history of Toronto and its buildings:

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

Links to posts about Toronto’s movie houses—past and present.

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 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 architectural gems–Bank of British North America–Wellington and Yonge Streets.

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On the northeast corner of Wellington and Yonge is an impressive structure that was once the site of a neo-classical bank building. The impressive structure was designed by John G. Howard for the Bank of British North America. It was said that the directors of the bank in London preferred Howard’s designs for the bank to all the others that were submitted. John G. Howard was the man who donated to the city the land that today is High Park, and his home, Colbourne Lodge remains within the park, visited each year by tourists and Torontonians alike. The bank building he designed was greatly admired during the four decades that it served the citizens of Toronto.

Above the doorway of the building was “The Royal Arms.” Built on an impressive scale, they were copied from those on the Bank of England. They can be seen in the photograph on the left. On the parapet on the top of the building, high above the door was a scallop-shell introduced by Sir John Sloane, the architect of the Bank in London. It was the emblem of the “gold-digger’s” occupation. I have been unable to find exactly what the “gold-digger’s occupation means, as any references to it that I can find appear not to apply to the ornament on this building.

In Henry Scadding’s book, “Toronto of Old,” he stated that the building was: “ . . . a handsome edifice of cut-tone, which might have endured for centuries.” This may have been true, but John G. Howard lamented that : “ The Bank of British North America was deliberately torn down block by block in 1871 and made to give place to a structure which should be on par in magnificence and attitude with the buildings put up in Toronto by other banks.”

The structure that replaced the 1845 bank building opened in 1875. The “Royal Arms” from above the doorway of the previous building were relocated to the new structure. However, they have since been removed, likely due to the danger of them falling to the street below. I have been unable to determine their present location. Designed by Henry Langley, the building was described as a structure that reflected the opulence and resources that were appropriate for a successful bank.  Others felt that the bank brought to Toronto a sophistication that was reminiscent of those structures found on a Parisian boulevard. Interestingly, it was Henry Langley who popularized in Toronto the Second Empire style with its Mansard roofs. The new bank building was constructed of Ohio sandstone and richly decorated with classical designs. Even today, its Mansard roof appears impressive. Originally, the main entrance to the building was on Wellington Street, but as Yonge Street emerged as the city’s main thoroughfare, the doorway was relocated without any loss of splendour.

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     The 1875 Bank of British North America at 49 Yonge Street (at Wellington Street)

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The Wellington Street facade of the bank and the brass plate on the building

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                                Details on the Wellington Street facade

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          The doorway on Yonge Street                         The Wellington Street doorway

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

To view previous posts about 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[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 .

      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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