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The Music Hall

The marquee of the Music Hall in 2009
Former names Allen's Danforth, The Century, Titania Theatre
Type Theatre/cinema
Location 147 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, Canada
Completed 1919
Design team
Architect Hynes, Feldman and Watson
Awards and prizes Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1985; Performing Arts Centre of the Year - 2008, Canadian Music Industry Awards

The Music Hall is a theatre on Danforth Avenue in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Originally constructed as a movie theatre in 1919, the building was first known as the Allen's Danforth, after its owner the Allen Theatre Chain.[1][2] Promoted as "Canada’s First Super-Suburban Photoplay Palace", the theatre opened in the midst of both a building boom along Danforth Avenue (due to the opening of the Prince Edward Viaduct) and a boom in the construction of movie theatres following the First World War.[2][3][4] Allen's Danforth opened on August 18, 1919, and the first feature film shown was Goldwyn Pictures' Through the Wrong Door starring Madge Kennedy.[5]

The Allen Danforth shortly after completion in 1919

Although the Danforth theatre was one of the jewels in the Allen chain,[3] it followed the same general architectural style of all Allen theatres. Instead of the heavy ornamentation that characterized many cinemas of the period, the interiors were primarily intended to be spacious and comfortable, with muted and complementary colours, and restrained classical plaster detailing.[2][6] Building exteriors were symmetrical, typically containing both Palladian and Georgian Revival elements, including repeating low-relief classical ornamentation. [3][6] The front façade of the Danforth theatre still features most of its original architectural features, including extensive patterned brickwork (Flemish bond and herringbone), opal glass windows and a marquee of chains.[2] Stylized "AT" symbols, representing the Allen Theatre chain, also remain on the façade.[3]

In 1923, the Allen chain was facing financial pressures, and most of its theatres were acquired by the Famous Players chain. The name of Allen's Danforth was changed to the Century, and was managed by Famous Players subsidiary, the B&F chain.[1] The theatre remained a first-run movie house until the late 1960s, and subsequently served as a Greek language cinema known as the Titania Theatre from 1970 to 1978.[7][8] The theatre gained the Music Hall name when it started featuring live acts in the late 1970s.[8] Later it began showing second-run films, ultimately becoming part of Toronto's Festival Chain of repertory cinemas in 1998.[9] Over the years, a number of films have had scenes filmed in the theatre, including Chicago, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 54, Bulletproof Monk, Focus and Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.[10]

The theatre closed in 2004,[9] and remained vacant for a year and a half. Age and neglect had taken their toll, and the building had almost deteriorated beyond repair. New owners acquired the theatre, retaining the Music Hall name, and renovated and restored it, including the installation of a new sound system and new seating.[3][11] Now operating as a venue for live performances, the theatre was named the Performing Arts Centre of the year (under 1500 capacity) at the 2008 Canadian Music Industry Awards.[12]

The Music Hall was designated as a property of historic interest under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1985.[13]


  1. ^ a b Sebert, John (2001). The Nabes: Toronto's Wonderful Neighbourhood Movie Houses. Oakville: Mosaic Press. p. 82. ISBN 0-88962-770-3.  
  2. ^ a b c d "History of the Danforth". The Danforth Business Improvement Association. Retrieved 2009-03-15.  
  3. ^ a b c d e "Minto Skyy: Welcome to the Neighbourhood". Summer 2008 newsletter. MintoUrban Communities Inc.. Summer 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-15.  
  4. ^ Wickens, Stephen (2 May 2008). "Take a walk on the Danforth". Toronto Star. Retrieved 15 March 2009. "The street was a dirt road with small wooden bridges over swamps and creeks until pavement and streetcar tracks arrived in 1913. Its market gardens supplied produce to the nearby city, but gave way to a 1920s building boom that followed the close of World War I and the opening of the Bloor viaduct."  
  5. ^ Toronto Star: p. 20. 12 August 1919.  
  6. ^ a b "Metropolitan Theatre". Historical Buildings: Theatres. Heritage Winnipeg. Retrieved 2009-03-15.  
  7. ^ Allen, Robert Thomas (10 October 1970). "The Old Familiar Danforth is Vanishing as a Cosmopolitan Strip Takes it Place". Toronto Star: p. B1.  
  8. ^ a b Dickison, Stephanie (9 May 2006). "Return of the Music Hall". Toronto Star: p. C3. "The theatre had many reincarnations over the years - The Century Theatre, a Greek movie house, and it was known as The Titania Theatre from 1970 to 1978. It then became a live concert venue that hosted talents such as James Brown."  
  9. ^ a b "Danforth Music Hall Now Closed?". 11 March 2004. Retrieved 2009-03-15.  
  10. ^ Dickison, Stephanie (9 May 2006). "Return of the Music Hall". Toronto Star: p. C3. "You might recognize it in such films as Chicago, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 54, Bulletproof Monk, Focus and the ABC Mini- series Life with Judy Garland Me and My Shadows."  
  11. ^ Dickison, Stephanie (9 May 2006). "Return of the Music Hall". Toronto Star: p. C3. "The ceiling leaked and crumbled in parts, the plumbing all but stopped and it looked like yet another historical Toronto building had come and gone."  
  12. ^ "Canadian Music Industry Awards". The Music Hall. March 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-15.  
  13. ^ "City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties". Retrieved 2009-03-15.  

External links

Coordinates: 43°40′35″N 79°21′25″W / 43.676277°N 79.357023°W / 43.676277; -79.357023



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