Comments from mortonbg

Showing 26 - 50 of 107 comments

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on May 21, 2008 at 11:29 pm

Well good news…

Some errors in what I posted above…

Looks like Miss Cecelia Bartley lived after all.. At least she was still alive three weeks later after the shooting… So it was just a suicide.. Also the gunman was Jack Grubb, 45 of Baltimore, who was the UNDER THE APPLE TREE’S scenic carpenter. There were quite a few murders in Hamilton that month, (including a mobster found on Ridge Road in Stoney Creek)… I was surprised at the lack of coverage

Lastly the shooting happened at 5:40 pm on Friday November 25th, which was between Evening and Matinee performances.. The only person in the audience was an usher, who quickly summoned police from Central Station which was less then a block away… The star of the play was Loring Smith, who later had quite a successful career..

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on May 17, 2008 at 12:53 am

Well.. I am glad to hear that the street person is gone.

We used to have a street person back in 1991, who used to urinate under the marquee all the time.. One night we surprised him with a bucket of water… so it stopped finally.

I am surprised at this because the offices of the owners (The Ballet) are in the Federal Building on James Street, just across the Wilson Street, but I guess someone has to tell them what’s going on.

If anyone else notices such abuses, perhaps a message left on their answering machine might do the trick…

mortonbg commented about Epic Theatre on May 15, 2008 at 1:50 am

Well the building is still standing. Demolition is supposedly still coming. City of Winnipeg is suing the demolition company for botching the Starland’s facade.. See story here…
View link

Found out that the Rex theatre was under the control of the Allan Theatre Chain until 1923 when they went under and were bought out by Famous Players

mortonbg commented about Broadway Cinema on May 11, 2008 at 4:52 am


I am guessing that this would be Vija.. Since it was Jon Zemaitis and his then partner Vija that ran the place in the late 80’s early 90’s. I had her in my taxi about a year back.. But I don’t have contact info sadly. A friend of mine in Ottawa was the asst manager in the 1980’s, I’ll ask next time I see him. Hopefully she spots your query.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on May 11, 2008 at 12:41 am

At last I’ve confirmed a story I’ve long heard about the Lyric Theatre.

There was indeed a murder committed backstage. From the Hamilton Herald November 26, 1921

JEALOUS MAN’S RAGE ENDS IN FATAL SHOOTING – Harry Grubb, actor shot and probably fatally injured Miss Cecilia Bartley, Actress – Turned Gun on Self – He died shortly after – Both were members of Act at the Lyric.

To paraphrase the rest. Harry Grubb, 45 of NYC and Miss Cecilia Bartley, 21 of Chicago were both in a musical comedy act called “Under The Apple Tree”.. He shot her at the stage door, and then marched on stage where the afternoon matinee was in progress and in view of the audience, shot himself twice in the chest killing himself instantly. Miss Bartley was taken to the City (general) Hospital in grave condition, (bullets in chest and head) and was not expected to survive. I need to check out the microfilm newspapers for more details.. Will post more when I get more details…

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on May 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Be very careful urban spelunkers.. No trespassing signs everywhere, and police station across the street. No power in the building at present either. (No one to hear you scream in the dark – Hey I saw ALIEN at the Century in 1978 – It was the first restricted movie I ever saw – I was 15 at the time, but looked older)…

However, if you do get in, please take lots of pictures of the backstage area and post them somewhere for me.. :–)

I wandered around the outside last weekend myself and took about 50 pictures of the exterior from every angle. Once I find a place to post them I will share them..

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on May 8, 2008 at 1:02 pm

The Regent Theatre in Toronto (ex Belsize, ex-Crest) /theaters/7574/ has found life again as a post production house. They mix dolby sound during the day and it still shows movies at night which is a win win situation.It might be a viable opportunity to save the building – or as studio space for a film shoots – lost of square footage.

The building needs to be stabilized though. A new roof (at least at the front), and interior demolition of the front part of the building (2nd and 3rd floors) just to get the doors open again..

BTW last week I saw the images of the 1944 Century Interior at the Ontario Archives, those swirling designs on the side walls were clearly there, they must have been commissioned by Kaplan and Sprachman who did the renovation in 1940.

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on May 1, 2008 at 11:23 pm

That’s a question I don’t know the answer to.. How does one update a theatre entry on Cinema Treasures? Even the ones I have submitted myself there doesn’t seem to be a way to edit them as far as I can see…

mortonbg commented about Tivoli Theatre on Apr 29, 2008 at 8:41 pm

I walked around the exterior of the Tivoli theatre today. She looks in good shape from an outside anyway.

mortonbg commented about Epic Theatre on Apr 29, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Demolition began today… very sad the whole business.

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Apr 29, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Demolition has begun today. :–(

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Apr 29, 2008 at 12:30 am


The roof of the Tivoli’s auditorium is ok as far as I know. It was in very good shape back in 1991 – 1992 anyway when I worked in the building, and I have no reason to believe that it has deteriorated much since then.

Most of the urban spelunkers take only pictures, so even on that score I think the TIV is ok, although I agree it would be better if the building had more regular security.

The question is can the Ballet raise the $10 million. Scuttlebutt says they are in the middle of a feasibility study in order to secure provincial and federal grant money for a restoration. I hope that they get it!

The Century sadly has no such allies.. and has been empty and unheated since Sept 1989. WE made a proposal to the owners in 1991, but they went with a group that wanted to open a night club.. Sadly this never opened.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Apr 28, 2008 at 11:02 am

One last comment for today.. The balcony of the Lyric was removed in 1940, and the fire exits were bricked up. You can still see this today on both sides of the building – the line of the original balcony, which clearly goes below what is the 1940’s cinema roof line. Again this is clearer on the blueprints.

In 1990 before the collapse, (which I am guessing happened within the last 5 years), only the very back of the balcony, what would have been called the mezzanine, was still there, there was part of what looked like a railing, with some steps, and there were the side walls of the Lyric with gold paint and stenciled decor. There was also a rickety wooden ladder that went up about 25 feet into a giant round air conditioning duct/intake. This led to a hatch that came out on the roof.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Apr 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

The damage to the Century BTW is only to the first 20 feet of the building, and was the only part of the roof not replaced in renovations in 1955 – I have a copy of the blueprint for this renovation. I have also been in this space myself so I know exactly what I am talking about. Clearly there has been water damage to the lobby area and the former rooming/boarding house on the third floor is obviously uninhabitable, but these areas of the building had been abandoned even when Famous Players was still using it as a movie house. What is dooming the Century is not the damage to the building, rather a lack of any will to save it. The current owners just see it as a location for potential development, and are waiting for someone to come along and offer them money for the property. If holding onto it becomes to expensive, they will likely demolish it.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Apr 28, 2008 at 10:28 am

Mark: I am much more hopeful about the Tivoli. It is a newer building, (built in 1924). Also the present owners the Canadian Youth Ballet intend to restore it as a theatre, see their website here. Other then some water damage to the plaster on the SR side of the auditorium the Tivoli theatre is in good shape. It just needs the front of the building replaced in order to re-open again.
The Century, though much of its historic fabric was gutted in 1940, is historically a much more interesting building. As the centre of Kieth-Albee Vaudeville in Hamilton, many noted performers graced its stage, eg The Marx Brothers in Sept. 1919. Its stage was constructed for legitamante tehatre, and it was home to sveral “stock” companies who produced plays.

mortonbg commented about Century Theatre on Apr 26, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Thanks very much for this image… Did you take others from the opposite angle? The most intact and historic parts of the Lyric are the backstage areas ironically, everything else was gutted in the 1940’s.

Looks like someone has left the hatch open in the grid… That’s the natural light you are seeing. To prevent more damage hopefully that can be closed by someone.

The fly gallery is the opposite side of the stage – two flights of stairs, first one runs up to what is called the “pin rail”, the next flight of stairs leads up to the “grid”…. The catwalk that runs across the back of the stage is called a “paint-frame”, because it was used to paint soft backdrops, which was the majority of the scenery required in those early days…

I would be grateful for photos of all of these features, next time someone gets in there.

BTW You were standing in the very spot were in September 1919, the Marx Brothers were performing in a play called N'EVERYTHING.

I have B&W images of my own from 1990, but they are grainy and out of focus.

Particleman if you would be kind enough to email me privately about using some of your photos in the research I am doing on the building.. Thanks!

mortonbg commented about Epic Theatre on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Still more photos of the inside here…

mortonbg commented about Epic Theatre on Apr 24, 2008 at 1:25 pm

It is heartbreaking to see that so much has survived only to end up in a landfill next week… Looks like the paint is original from 1913…

More interior pictures and some comment here.

View link

mortonbg commented about Epic Theatre on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:55 am

Looks like these buildings are coming down next week… Hopefully someone can photograph them before they come down…

There is a good blog article here…

View link

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Apr 24, 2008 at 12:54 am

Looks like these buildings are coming down next week… Hopefully someone can photograph them before they come down…

There is a good blog article here…

View link

mortonbg commented about Grand Theatre on Apr 20, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Just a quick note

This was not a restoration but rather the creation of a black box type studio theatre space within the physical space that once was occupied by the Grand’s ornate interior. Elements of plaster work found in the original lobby area have been preserved, all that is original from the original auditorium are the brick walls/exterior.

I guess it saved them the cost of building a new structure.. but it certainly was not a “restoration” by any means. The Grand Theatre (1902) in Kingston Ontario is in the middle of doing the same thing.

mortonbg commented about Towne Theatre on Apr 20, 2008 at 2:14 am

Correct Towne and the State were the same theatre.

The building is now for sale as of March 2008.

mortonbg commented about Royal Theatre on Apr 20, 2008 at 2:10 am

I checked the city directory for this theatre. It stood on the north side of King Street half way on the block between MacNab and Park, which today only goes as far as York, but originally went all the way up to King Street. This would have placed it approximately where the entrance to the parking garage is for the Sheraton Hotel.

All of these properties were expropriated by the city in the mid 1960’s and then demolished.

There are four pictures of this theatre from the 1940’s in the Ontario Archives

mortonbg commented about Starland Theatre on Apr 13, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Thank you very much for this Ken. It is funny a friend of mine is in Winnipeg this weekend and specifically asked him to go over to the sight and take a look for me!. By the sounds of it these two theatres, which have both been removed from the Historic Buildings Inventory, will be torn down within the month…

The interiors should be documented before demolition certainly…

mortonbg commented about Beaver Theatre on Apr 12, 2008 at 11:11 pm

The Beaver Theatre was one of the earliest purpose built cinemas in Toronto opening in 1913. By 1919 it was owned and operated by the nationwide Allen Theatre chain (run by Jules and Jay Allen of Brantford Ontario) until being bought out by Famous Players in 1923. In the 1940’s until its closing in 1961 it was operated by 20th Century Theatres inc. It had had a very imposing Adamesque facade and marquee, a picture of which is on page 66 of THE NABES by John Sebert. The name refers to the National Animal of Canada, the noble and clever beaver – as far as can be determined it never showed adult fare. More photos are in the Archives of Ontario.