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Allenby Theatre, 1213 Danforth Avenue, East York, Toronto, ON

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posted by alias Snuffy on Friday 29th of March 2019 10:07:18 AM

Excerpt from In February of 1936, Charles Wagman and Hyman Starkman received building permits from the City of Toronto to build a movie theatre, at an estimated cost of $10,500. On May 22 of that same year the Allenby Theatre was open for business. The architectural firm of Kaplan & Sprachman designed the Allenby Theatre. In 1970 the Allenby was briefly renamed the “Apollo”, screening Greek films, but by 1971 ads had started to appear in the Toronto Daily Star under yet another name “Roxy.” From 1972 to 1976, under the management of Gary Topp, the theatre was called “The Original 99 Cent Roxy” and featured foreign and art films such as Andy Warhol’s Lonesome Cowboys or Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. In the mid 1970s John Lidolt was hired to run the theater, which reverted to the name the “Roxy.” The Roxy is likely the name most area residents will best remember. Eventually, the audiences dwindled and the Roxy was forced to close its doors. The theatre was boarded up and seemingly faced demolition, the same fate as so many other Canadian neighbourhood theatres. But Toronto Preservation Services had listed the theatre on its Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1985, a clear statement from the City that they wanted the heritage of the building to be preserved. On February 6, 2007 City Council enacted a by-law under the Ontario Heritage Act, further protecting the building’s architectural and historical heritage. In November of that same year the new owner of the theatre, Imperial Oil, made an application to restore the historic façade as part of a redevelopment project. The project was approved and ERA Architects, a firm specializing in heritage architecture, was hired to oversee the restoration. ERA is a firm that has worked on a number of other heritage buildings in Toronto, such as the Flatiron Building, St. Lawrence Hall and Union Station. The construction of the Allenby Theatre straddled two design periods. Its Art Modern design also incorporates elements of Art Deco, which was just gaining recognition in Canada during the mid-1930s. Kirsty Bruce, of ERA, notes that the vertical lines of the Allenby’s upper façade are characteristic of Art Moderne, while the horizontal and curved lines at street-level hint at an Art Deco influence. The scale and architectural details of the Allenby Theatre distinguishes it from other properties on the Danforth, making it a local landmark. With the completion of the redevelopment project, the corner of Greenwood and Danforth is moving forward while maintaining ties to its past. On October 2, 2011 Imperial Oil, Tim Hortons and City Councilor Paula Fletcher will host an unveiling ceremony of a bronze Heritage Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties plaque. The plaque will recognize the Allenby Theatre’s architectural and cultural significance within the context of both the neighbourhood and the City of Toronto.

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  • Published 01.22.22
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