Century Theatre

12 Mary Street,
Hamilton, ON L8

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Showing 51 - 75 of 96 comments

hamiltonmark on April 27, 2008 at 8:32 pm

With the resent collaping of a building in the Lister Block ( not the Lister building) a short distance away from this theatre, time only knows if this could happen to this theatre. The roof collaped on a historic but vacant building causing a chain reaction floor by floor. The building was torn down this past week. With the roof on the front half of the Century theatre already collaped,this could happen as well. DEMOLITION BY NEGLECT is common in Hamilton when buildings are left to rot. The auditorium of what’s left of the Tivoli could be next as well. Mark

mortonbg on April 26, 2008 at 6:03 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!

ParticleMan on April 26, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Here is a photo I took in the area behind the stage today. It was my first time going back into Lyric for awhile. The place is even more of a death trap than it was before, but I still love it.

View link

The history in this place is so rich. I wish I could have seen the place 20 years ago.

mortonbg on March 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm

If anyone else gets into this theatre again would they please grab some pictures of the former backstage area on the east side of the building? Particularly the paint frame and the fly gallary/railings

You may have to brings some lights with you – this area likely doesn’t have any illumination at all…


mortonbg on February 18, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Yes I have done this with google maps myself… The part of the roof on the westside of the structure that has caved in is the last bit of the original 1912 roof… The part that was not replaced in 1954.

Ironically the most intact and important historical parts of the Century theatre are the backstage areas of the 1912 Lyric vaudeville palace which were left just as storage after the proscenium arch was bricked up in 1940… The grid, the hemp fly gallary and the original dressing rooms, and a huge paint frame used to paint scenic drops are still intact in the east end of the building…

hamiltonmark on February 18, 2008 at 7:33 pm

After logging into Google Earth, you can see the section of the roof that has caved in. It is the front section where the office were and where the balcony was. The rest of the roof appears to be intact for the time being(of coarse).

mortonbg on February 18, 2008 at 12:34 am

I also have a blueprint I found in the office on the second floor showing the 1954 renovations where the Lyric’s original ceiling was removed and the current flat roof was installed… Sprachman was the architect I recall

There are still elements of the Lyric auditorium left on the side walls at the back and parts of the original pros arch plaster work are a groove between the current ceiling and the fly gallery.

It was renamed Century in 1940 when bough by 20th Century Theatres They built a smaller one level cinema within the shell of the old 2000 seat vaudeville palace…

mortonbg on February 18, 2008 at 12:27 am

I have only one image of the Lyric Theatre (1912-1940) interior and that is a bad photocopy from a microfilm of the Hamilton Herald Newspaper article – a Christmas concert for orphans from the 1913 taken from the stage and showing the auditorium with its large sweeping balcony.. I will see if I can dig it up again…

The Marx Brothers played the Century in a stage show in 1924 BTW…

Also backstage on the paint frame back in 1990, I found a poster saying “LYRIC THEATRE HIGHCLASS KIETH/ALBEE VAUDEVILLE”.. The back of it had been used to mix paint for backdrops…

oldusher on October 24, 2007 at 9:23 pm

Hi Skye,
I’ve been trying to contact former employees of the Century Theatre.
Please contact me at
Al Burt

hamiltonmark on October 24, 2007 at 10:45 am

After visiting the Hamilton Library,I found out that The original ceiling was removed when the false ceiling was put in. There were also four chandellers that were also removed. Unfortunatly, there are no pictures on file of the inside of the Lyric/Century before the conversion. Mark

ParticleMan on October 7, 2007 at 11:39 am

It does. It’s just too far gone to be saved. I think, even at the time of closure the building wasn’t doing all that great. Lots of repairs would have had to be made right then to preserve it.

The roof has been caved in for many years now. Probably only 5-10 years after it was abandoned.

trofis on October 7, 2007 at 8:25 am

On my recent visit the downtown BIA, I was infomed that the plans for the property of the Lyric are still underway. They are awaiting for a parking permit which will house a multi-level parkade right across the street. This will also be used for parking for the police station. According to the BIA, and the blueprints, the Lyric itself will be eliminated, keeping only the facade. Plans are still underway for the property to be condos, scheduled for 2008-2010. Kind of sad, but with the condition of that building, makes a lot of sense.

ParticleMan on October 7, 2007 at 12:49 am

Oh, and here’s a picture I took this past week of the Century. Still the same as always…

View link

ParticleMan on October 7, 2007 at 12:48 am

Thank you very much for posting all that information, Skye. I wish I could see what the theatre looked like before it closed. See what you had seen so many times. I’ve explored the theatre many times myself since 2005, many of those times with Bryan and Mike who also posted pictures and information here. The theatre holds a special place with me as well, and I’ve only seen it in it’s depressing form.

With all that said, the building is nearly a death trap now. The front office area is completely unsafe to traverse. The wooden floors are rotted right through. Both my feet fell through the floor, and I was saved by a support beam that I fell onto. Bryan was unlucky enough to completely fall right through the front offices, to the floor below. If you do go into the theatre, BE CAREFUL.

Skye on September 30, 2007 at 10:00 pm

PPS: The Century had only 705 seats when iot closed. It was refurbished in 1964 or 1965 and it wa then that they eliminated some seating. They still had reserve seating for some special attraction too. The ticket bos was right behind the cashier in the “new box office” The old box office was outside and glassed in. My God the memories!

Skye on September 30, 2007 at 9:52 pm

For Al Burt: I remember your name. You knew my dad and my bothers Doug and Mike Marriott. Mary Poppins was the first picture I think I saw there. Do you remember Mrs. Wade, Charlie Jarvis, Loretta Stremble, Arlene Belleck, Mike Hogan?

Skye on September 30, 2007 at 9:37 pm

hello, I can’t tell you how delighted I was to stumble upon this website. My father (Verdun Marriott) ran the Century Theatre for many years. Some of the people you mentioned were friends of his. I virtually grew up around theatres specifically the Century and all of our family worked there over the years. My dad moved to Famous Players Head Office later on but the Century was always his favourite. He was well liked by the community whether it be reporters from the Spectator, the nuns that he bused in to see Sound of Music, movie stars, politicians or the same bunch that came in every Sunday…everyone was treated special at that theatre. The matron there on Saturdays and Sundays was named Mrs. Evangeline Wade, the best lady you could ever meet. She used to watch us when my mother had to look after my brother who was frequently ill. I remember watching movies in the projection booth or through the trap door window in the manager’s office. The backstage rooms are old dressing rooms from the days of vaudiville. I found newspapers from the world wars in there. The coal bins were there too. I have original furniture and ashtrays from there. My name is written on the wall in the lobby. Originally it was hidden by a hinged poster board and a drape. I have programs and posters that were my dad’s as well. We used to go through a trap door in the second floor ceiling. We went above the suspended ceiling on catwalks and saw your balconies. I heard them called opera boxes as well. Also the drapes were indeed orginally red velvet. Did you know that the Century is haunted? There is also the true story of the vaudiville actor who killed his wife and her lover backstage and I heard a version where he then killed himself but someone has since told me that he was convicted and hung at Barton Street Jail. I have often thought of the Century. I ran it for awhile while I was in University at McMaster. I went by there about ten or so years ago and the door was open. The person there allowed me to go up into my dad’s old office. It was then that he gave me one of the orginal black glass ashtrays and a rubber stamp bearing the Century’s theatre number. I remember the phone number 527-7861 or ja-77861. Pretty good huh? I may know you Mike16. Anyway you can write to me at Skye

mrchangeover on May 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Thanks again!
I was looking at the projectionist list photo and at the bottom is a phone number for the union at the Palace Theatre.
Thats because the projectionist at the Palace at that time (around 1960) was Hugh Usher…. who was also the President of the union local.

Lovesickphoto on May 30, 2007 at 10:42 am

Yes, the perfect things for memories are photographs and artifacts. I do indeed have some shots of the projection room. Follow this link and you’ll be greeted to a few. View link

mrchangeover on May 30, 2007 at 4:49 am

Great work!
It will be nice to have these photos as a record of the Century once it is demolished. Do you have any photos of the projection booth?

hamiltonmark on May 29, 2007 at 3:31 pm

Mike. Just logged on to this site and looked at your upgraded pictures posted on March 3. The photo’s of the balcony and the view of the stage from the projectors booth are great.
Those curtains that are hanging I believe are not from when the theare closed. I believe they were red but I could be wrong.
Thanks again, Mark.

Lovesickphoto on March 4, 2007 at 5:09 am

You are very welcome for the photos. I have plenty of photos of the interior condition of this theater as I have been there many times recently. Mark, you are right. The design on the wall of auditorium does have three on each side, except now they are not covered by red drapes. As for your question, Mark, The wall at the back of the stage would have been there with the screen. When this theater was converted into a movie house, they moved the entire stage up. They put up that wall to block off the back of the building where the Lyric stage would have been. It sits empty now with trap doors to the basement and I ladder to the east offices. There are also two basement accesses back stage and the door that now leads to the alley way. If anyone has any questions of the current state, feel free to ask.

hamiltonmark on March 3, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Mike. Thanks for the pictures. From what I can recall of this theatre from the 70’s it’s present state looks rather depressing. It’s hard to imagin what this theatre would have looked like pre conversion days. I am glad that you were able to capture one of the images on the auditorium walls. I think there were three on either side but they were covered by red drapes when I went to the movies during the 70’s.
One question though, if you looked towards the front of the auditorium, was there a wall where the screen was or was one added after the seats were removed?
From outside, it’s is still a impressive building.
Thanks again for the pictures, Mark

Lovesickphoto on March 3, 2007 at 5:50 am

Sorry about that. I did some account upgrading, and I made it publically viewable. It was private last time. So yes, just follow the link again and it should work. If not, just tell me again!

View link

trofis on March 3, 2007 at 2:32 am

Mike: Gotta a better link? All that one brings me to is a login page. Without a password it is useless….