Comments from mortonbg

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mortonbg commented about Cinema on Apr 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm

The Gregory was a different Theatre on the east side of Kenilworth just North of Main. Also known as the Cinderella in the late teens it is currently being gutted for apartments.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Chuck there is a You tube video here..

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Chuck there are almost 400 images of the demolition on the facebook page.. The most recent were taken today

View link

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

Alas, as of today the Lyric / Century is completely gone…

RIP old girl…

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 17, 2010 at 8:34 am


All of this stuff is in the Ontario archives in the RG11 – RG10 files.

Seating capacity when it opened was 2000 seats IN ALL ADVERTISING.. (This does not mean that there were really 2000 seats – Just that the management wanted every one to know that the Lyric was the biggest new theatre in town.)

In the 1921 Gus Hill Moving Picture Directory the Lyric Theatre is listed as having 1820 seats (Which was likely the real figure all a long). Both the Loews (1917) and the Pantages (1920) had opened by then, and they had given up on being the biggest in town.

According to the RG 11 files at the ONT archives:

Nov 8/1938 Construction report – Lyric Theatre – Lic: Ross T Stewart. 722 seats (no balcony) (This is the seating capacity since the theatre reopened in 1930 I believe).

June 25/1940 – Seating plan Century Theatre – 866 seats – Kaplan and Sprachman

March 9/1967 – Century Theatre reseating – 705 seats – Canadian seating company.

The final seating count was its capacity till Famous Players clsoed it in Sept 1989.

Demolition has started BTW…. Sad to lose the old girl.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm


It was I who talked to Paul Wilson Monday for today’s article eulogizing the theatre. The image which I directed them to from the January 3rd issue of the SPECTATOR clearly shows the interior of the Lyric Theatre with ONE balcony.

I think many Hamiltonians are only now waking up to the history that this building represents… Sadly none of it will prevent the destruction which will begin early next week.

BTW we have started a facebook group to remember the grand old girl… How join us!

View link

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm

City issues order to demolish Century Theatre

Owner says timeline too tight to save facade
January 11, 2010
Nicole O’Reilly
The Hamilton Spectator
The city’s chief building official has issued an order requiring the owners of the Century Theatre to demolish every part of the historic building.

The order came late this afternoon, following John Spolnik’s examination of an engineering report funded by the building’s owner.

Under the name Lyric Century Apartments Inc., Zoran Cocov will have to mobilize a demolition crew immediately. Work is expected to begin as early as Tuesday.

Because of the building’s stability issues, it will likely take weeks to demolish, said Spolnik, who is also director of building services for the city.

He recommends crews work from the north end of the building and use “cherry picking equipment” to pull the building apart piece by piece.

Cocov had hoped to save the facade of the building, which was deemed heritage, for his pending 59-unit condominium development at the Mary Street site.

But the engineering report found that stabilizing the facade would take more time than the city is allowing.

Many Hamiltonians, including Councillor Bob Bratina, members of the arts community and downtown property owners have accused the city of being lax on property standards and have accused Cocov of “demolition by neglect.”

But Cocov says there is more to the story.

From the outside it may look like nothing has happened since he purchased the building 10 years ago, he said.

But Cocov contends that he has been working to secure funding, multiple permits and to keep up with changing regulations.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Century poised to fall
One last engineering report could save the day, but not likely

The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 9, 2010)

Barring a last-minute miracle, the entire Century Theatre will come down as early as Monday, the city’s chief building official says.

John Spolnik, who is also director of building services for the city, said he spoke with the engineer hired by the historic buildings' owner after the engineer’s inspection yesterday.

To save the facade, which was the owners' development plan, would require an extensive design and stabilization process, he said. This would take too much time — time the city does not have because of safety concerns.

The city ordered owner Zoran Cocov, of Lyric Century Apartments, to have an engineer with heritage background inspect the site immediately, following an independent engineering report that led the city to deem the property unsafe on Thursday.

Spolnik said he won’t officially order the building be torn down until the new engineer’s report is on his desk Monday.

But he said from what he’s been told, he can’t foresee any reason to change his mind.

The entire front section of the roof is collapsed from the facade to almost 40 feet back, he said.

Like dominos, the fifth, fourth, third and second floors are collapsed.

There is no lateral support for the building, Spolnik said. Stability will only deteriorate with snow and winds.

The first the city heard of the roof being collapsed was Thursday, he said.

However, Cocov said the roof was partially collapsed when Cocov and his business partner purchased the building nearly 10 years ago. Since then there has been more deterioration.

“It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen,” he said. In hindsight, there are things we could have done better, he added.

He requested the heritage designation in 2000 and it was approved in 2001. It was later amended to protect only the facade.

If the city orders the building demolished, Cocov said the planned 59-unit condominium will mimic the building’s architecture.

Certain elements will be saved, including the original sign.

Hamilton Fringe Festival president Brian Morton called the events “classic demolition by neglect.”

When the theatre opened in 1913 and was still called the Lyric, it saw all the big acts, including the Marx Brothers, he said. The stage was blocked with bricks and re-opened for cinema in the 1930s.

It closed 20 years ago and has sat empty since.

Hamilton once had the most theatres per capita in the country, Morton said. It will be a shame to see another one bite the dust.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Seems like end of next week before the demolition crews start at it. The city has commissioned am independent surveyors report according to CHCH news tonight.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:13 am

Tragic news! Looks like the Century is coming down tomorrow!

Century Theatre structurally unstable, in jeopardy
January 08, 2010
Nicole O'Reilly
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jan 8, 2010)

The facade of the heritage- designated Century Theatre is in jeopardy after the city issued an order that it is unsafe and blocked access to the historic downtown building yesterday afternoon.

City of Hamilton public works staff began closing Mary Street and its sidewalks from King Street East to the northeast edge of the property around 4 p.m. as the building’s owner, Zoran Cocov, of Lyric Century Apartments, looked on. The neighbouring parking lot will also be closed.

The order calls for immediate action because the building’s inside on the upper floors are structurally unstable, said city spokesperson Debbie Spence.

Cars were towed off the street and neighbours were warned of the problem, though they were not told to evacuate. Police patrolled the area on foot to ward off any pedestrians.

Spence said the owner must have an engineer with heritage knowledge on site today to determine the immediate next steps. The area will remain closed until action is taken.

Lyric Century Apartments, which has owned the property for almost 10 years, obtained a heritage permit for the historic building’s facade in 2007 and a demolition permit to tear down the rear of the building in March 2009, she said.

Plans were in the works to build a 59-unit condominium building, Cocov said.

The plan was to preserve the facade and first bay of side walls to stand as the condo entrance, he said. But the instability may mean the facade is too dangerous to save.

“Health and safety has to be the main concern right now,” Cocov said.

In a Spectator article in September, Cocov said the preservation of the heritage feature was proving very expensive.

It is unclear when construction might have begun, as no site design had been submitted to the city, Spence said.

The city was alerted to the problem through an engineering company that had examined the site to provide the owners with a quote for its services, she said.

The state of the theatre, which is on the city’s list of vacant buildings, caused many complaints from residents, Spence said. The last property standards complaint was on June 5, claiming the building was open to trespassers.

The historic building was the biggest of its kind in Hamilton when it opened 1913. With 2,000 seats it was a prime location on the vaudeville circuit and later showed movies.

It closed 20 years ago. Its last movie was Lethal Weapon 2.

Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina remembers seeing movies there. He said he is very sad to see how far a building with such value and presence has deteriorated.

“I had high hopes to reinstate it as a music theatre,” he said.

Bratina said the city should have been able to preserve the building.

“It shows we still have a long way to go on our property standards,” he said.

Bratina initiated the bylaw for proactive inspections. He said he plans to review it for holes, including what he called a lack of roof inspections.

“We continually have buildings falling down before our eyes.”

mortonbg commented about Delta Theatre on Nov 15, 2009 at 9:31 am

Delta Theatre building (apartments now) is for sale.

Pizza Pizza operates a phone centre out of what used to be the lobby.

mortonbg commented about Downtown Theatre on Nov 15, 2009 at 9:30 am

Thanks for this Joe. There were pictures of the interior that I had never seen before.

mortonbg commented about Lincoln Alexander Centre on Aug 29, 2009 at 9:06 am

This theatre has reopened as of July 2009 as a conference centre/banquet hall attached to the Crown Plaza Hotel that is immediately next door.

It was used as the venue for the Hamilton Eco Film Festival

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Aug 29, 2009 at 8:41 am

There are also some excellent images of its current condition here

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Aug 29, 2009 at 8:38 am

The Tivoli Theatre is closed, but only the lobby is demolished. And there is finally movement at last to save what is left of it.

From yesterday’s HAMILTON SPECTATOR.

$15m restoration campaign
August 28, 2009

Standing on the stage of the Tivoli Theatre, Belma Gurdil-Diamante closes her eyes to imagine the room filled with visitors from the past.

In one dust-covered seat, she sees the mother of her hairdresser, who came to the theatre to socialize with other Italian immigrants.

A few rows back, she envisions her husband sharing his first kiss.

“There’s so many people that are attached to this place,” says Gurdil-Diamante, rubbing goosebumps on her arms as she looks around the decayed but still opulent auditorium. “I want to bring those people back.”

In a few weeks, the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble will launch a $15-million capital campaign to restore the historic theatre, which has sat empty since its partial collapse five years ago.

Gurdil-Diamante, the group’s CEO, is waiting until the launch to reveal how much money has been committed to date, but says she’s confident the project will go ahead.

In the past few weeks, crews have been inside the James Street North theatre, removing mould and asbestos and installing a new electrical panel. The stabilization work, which cost $300,000, is to be funded one-quarter by the city.

Next week a parkette will be built in front of the theatre where part of the building was demolished after the initial collapse.

Once the park is complete, boarding along the street will be removed to allow passersby to see the property.

Wally Lanosky of Copper Cliff Metals and Wrecking Corp., which is doing the demolition work and donating the parkette, suspects the unveiling will be a reminder that the theatre is still standing.

“Everyone thinks the Tivoli is gone,” he said.

Originally built as a carriage factory in the 1870s, the Tivoli was converted to a theatre in 1924.

The ballet company bought the theatre for $1 in 2006 from the Sniderman family of Sam the Record Man fame. Since then, engineers and architects have combed the building, judging its condition and making plans for the future.

Though damaged by time and the elements, the theatre is structurally solid, said Gurdil-Diamante.

As capital donations come in, the ballet company plans to start construction, hopefully in January. Pace Credit Union has agreed to match donations with financing.

The city helped the ballet ensemble prepare an application for federal infrastructure funding, said Ron Marini, the city’s director of downtown and community renewal. He believes the theatre project will be a perfect addition to the arts revival on James North.

“Instead of buildings falling down, we’re starting to see them being reused,” said Marini.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger also sees potential in the project, both for downtown renewal and the arts community. But he notes it won’t be easy raising the needed capital.

“It will be a challenge … (but) certainly not an insurmountable one,” he said. “I think it’s got opportunity written on it.”

In addition to restoring the heritage elements, the ballet company plans to build a new lobby and a backstage in the basement.

The pace of fundraising and the architect’s plan will decide the timeline, but Gurdil-Diamante hopes to be done in two years. Once complete, the theatre would be a multi-use performing venue used by a range of arts groups, she said.

“We want to make sure this place belongs to the community.”

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Jun 16, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Well looks like the long history of the Century / Lyric is about to come to an end soon. The construction / demolition permits have reportedly been issued… Soon nothing will remain but the exterior walls. Well it almost made it 100 before its end… shame that Hamilton cares so little about its history to see a grand old dame like this left to rot for 20 years.

A classic case of demolition by neglect and the Ontario Heritage designation of its 1940 interior has made no difference whatsoever as far as I can see…

mortonbg commented about York Theatre on Feb 4, 2009 at 11:50 am

A great article with the buildings history is here.

View link

mortonbg commented about York Theatre on Feb 4, 2009 at 11:42 am

Finally some happy news to report!

This theatre is to be preserved and will reopen as a performing arts centre.

info is here. View link


mortonbg commented about Mayfair Theatre on Nov 18, 2008 at 7:29 am

Good news! Looks like the Mayfair will survive as a cinema after all.

Info is here.

View link

Curtain to rise on new Mayfair
Partners plan ‘state-of-the-art’ upgrades to theatre

Don Butler
Ottawa Citizen

Monday, November 17, 2008

OTTAWA – Facing closing at the end of the month, the Mayfair Theatre has found new life thanks to a self-described “dream team of film-loving investors” with ambitious plans that could even include serving alcohol to film-goers.

The partners – John Yemen, a film scholar and entrepreneur, Paul Gordon, the Mayfair’s current film conservator and part-time projectionist, and filmmakers Lee Demarbre and Ian Driscoll – will announce Tuesday that they have leased the 76-year-old Bank Street cinema for 10 years from its Vancouver owner, Stephen Ng.

The Mayfair will close in December while they refresh the interior and make technical improvements. They plan to reopen with a party and open house on Jan. 2, 2009.

“It’s going to be state of the art by the time we open it,” Mr. Demarbre said in an interview. Among other things, his group plans to install Dolby digital sound and replace the sagging seats. “We want people to be comfortable at the Mayfair,” he said.

Word trickled out in August that Mr. Ng had balked at the cost of needed upgrades and planned to close Ottawa’s oldest surviving movie theatre Nov. 30.

Almost immediately, supporters mobilized to save the theatre, built in 1932. On Oct. 8, city council voted to designate the Mayfair a heritage building, citing its painted ceilings, ornate plaster façades, faux balconies, wrought ironwork and ornamental glass windows.

The heritage designation was key to his group’s ability to lease the theatre, Mr. Demarbre said. “There were apparently people interested in putting condominiums there. We couldn’t compete with that kind of money.”

Despite “big money pressure” for redevelopment on the site, Mr. Demarbre said Mr. Ng is happy the Mayfair will survive. “His desire was to have someone come and run it as a cinema,” he said.

Mr. Demarbre’s group will scrap the Mayfair’s strategy of showing second-run commercial films in favour of more eclectic programming – everything from art house, foreign and Canadian films to midnight screenings and festivals.

The only Ottawa theatre showing similar fare is the Bytowne, a thriving repertory cinema on Rideau Street. “We’d be interested in bringing those types of movies to the south end of Ottawa,” Mr. Demarbre said.

The Bytowne’s owner, Bruce White, is considered the best programmer in Canada, he said. “I don’t think Bruce has anything to worry about from the Mayfair. If anyone can appreciate friendly competition, it’s Bruce White.”

Mr. Demarbre fondly recalls watching Hong Kong filmmaker John Woo’s action classic, The Killer, at the Mayfair. “You’d bring popguns and run up and down the aisle and shoot at each other.”

In recent years, the Mayfair has gotten away from such inspired mayhem, he said. “I’m surprised at the kind of movies they’re showing. It’s very commercial, stuff you can go see at the Rainbow theatre and stuff that’s available on video at almost the same time as it’s playing at the Mayfair. It’s not very inspiring.”

Mr. Demarbre’s group has been inspired by theatres such as the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas, and Brewvie’s Cinema Pub in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both serve alcohol with their flicks, something Mr. Demarbre said his group is keen to do.

“If they can do it in Utah,” he said, “we can do it here. We want it to be fun to go to the movie theatre. We’ve got to get people out of their seats.”

Mr. Demarbre and his partners have been trying for years to open a repertory cinema in Ottawa. They approached Mr. Ng about the Mayfair several years ago, “but he didn’t bite,” Mr. Demarbre said.

When the Great Canadian Theatre Company moved into its new building at Wellington and Holland, they tried to acquire its old building on Gladstone. They also looked at a theatre-turned-church and a furniture store in the Westboro area.

Recently, out of frustration, they’ve been showing movies the last Saturday of every month at Club Saw in Arts Court.

mortonbg commented about Mayfair Theatre on Oct 6, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Here is the heritage designation for this theatre from the city of Ottawa website.

View link

There are also some excellent pictures of the interior. It is an example of a Spanish Morrocan style “atmospheric”..

mortonbg commented about Mayfair Theatre on Sep 29, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Some articles about the situation… first one

View link


View link

The second one says that at least the city has slapped a heritage designation on the interior.

Still this sonds like it may be at serious risk…

mortonbg commented about Victory Theatre on Jun 4, 2008 at 11:11 pm

And here is a modern view

View link

mortonbg commented about Victory Theatre on Jun 4, 2008 at 10:29 pm

There is a vintage image of this theatre here.

View link

mortonbg commented about Olde Walkerville Theatre on May 25, 2008 at 12:03 am

Some amazing recent (Nov 2007) pictures of the theatre are here..

View link

Looks in far better shape then I would have thought…

If only I had the $550,000…

mortonbg commented about Epic Theatre on May 22, 2008 at 9:04 pm

None of this was unexpected, since no one knew that the theatre was still intact until after the decision got made to demolish them.. The Starland was just a shell but the Rex/Epic was still a theatre even if it hadn’t been used as such for such a long time.

This is why it so important that we all share information about what still exists, so that hopefully the history can still be saved before it gets to this point..

I myself believe that there is a special part of hell reserved for people who demolish old theatres… You can’t build another one, and once they are gone they are lost forever..