Tivoli Theatre

110 James Street North,
Hamilton, ON L8R

Unfavorite 6 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 66 comments

BrockKing13
BrockKing13 on August 4, 2013 at 12:06 am

This theatre and the Century were my two favorites of all time. When I worked there I did a lot of exploring. All the history and ‘ghosts’ never leave my memory. Thanks Joe, I will check out the page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm

BrockKing13: The Colonial/Wonderland/Princess has a its own page at Cinema Treasures.

DavidDymond
DavidDymond on July 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Good information Brock — the original owners of the Tivoli property would NOT sell to Famous Players Canadian Corporation and so Famous created a “fake” company to acquire it and they sold to this “fake” company!!

BrockKing13
BrockKing13 on July 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I was employed as ass’t mgr and did some maintenance at the Tivoli in the early 70’s. I amazes me the historical misinformation that exists about this place. The theatre was built in 1908 and went by several names (Wonderland, Colonial etc.) It was a vaudville theatre until the 1920’s. During these years many of the biggest stars of the day performed here. Many went on to great sucess in Hollywood. In 1925 Famous Players built the large auditorium on the back, and the front of the theatre became the long lobby.The entire theatre was done in Italian Renaissance style with frescos,tapestries and roman statues in the auditorium wall recesses. A massive pipe organ was installed with pipe lofts inthe front recesses on either side.In 1954 the theatre was remodelled again and many of the 1925 fixtures were either removed or hidden behind walls and curtains. Her heydays were over by the early 1970’s and she was reduced to soft core sex movies until Famous Players let her go. Most of my information comes from old files, photos and first hand accounts by those who worked here during the golden years of this fine old lady. One of the biggest movies ever to show here was Gone With The Wind in 1939. According to receipt books I found, the show sold out every performance from 9am till late night every day for weeks. The adult admission price was 35 cents.

TivFan
TivFan on February 16, 2013 at 8:48 am

The Hamilton Spectator (our city newspaper) reported on Friday, February 15 that Bella Diamante has finally found a developer to buy the Tivoli…HER HUSBAND!! More details later…

TivFan
TivFan on February 7, 2013 at 10:49 am

If you are interested in other comments about the Tivoli Theatre project, see the “Skyscraper” forum. There are comments as current as early February 2013. (A direct address to the forum would not work for me.) Do a Google search for “Tivoli Theatre Hamilton”/go to page 2 of “web results”/and select “Tivoli Theatre [Archive]-Skyscraper Page Forum…”. It is the 8th item on the list on page 2. There are many comments, including some from somebody who made an offer to develop the property/project.

TivFan
TivFan on February 7, 2013 at 10:39 am

There is still no word on any development at the Tivoli Theatre. As mentioned in my December 27 comment, the finalization of the deal has not been announced. If you are interested in the saving and restoration of old theatres (or any kind of building) see “The Cost of History” on this site. Go to the home page and see “Latest Movie Theater Videos”. It is short, but there is a lot of information about what goes along with the restoration and the upkeep of a building.

TivFan
TivFan on December 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

Finally, some action at the Tivoli. The Hamilton Spectator reported (Wednesday, December 26) that a buyer is interested in developing the vacant portion of the Tivoli property. The end of January is the target for the finalization of the deal. You can see the article at thespec.com: Tivoli shall rise again, Ballet pledges.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 6, 2012 at 3:47 am

The page for architect B. Kingston Hall at the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada lists the Tivoli Theatre in Hamilton as a 1924 project of the firm of Hall & Duerr. The page lists a total of five theater projects for the firm.

After the firm was dissolved in 1926, partner Herbert George Duerr established his own practice and went on to design at least twenty more theaters.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on December 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

According the information at the IMDb for “Rated X”, filming took place in Hamilton, at the Tivoli, in Toronto, and in Uxbridge, Ontario. Portions of the also made-for-TV film, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” based on the play by (and really about) Neil Simon, made the year after “Rated X,” were also filmed at the Tivoli.

TivFan
TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

The Tivoli marquee is shown in all its glory…lots of lights…chaser lights and flashing lights. The Tivoli name is covered to read: “The Mitchell Brothers' O'Farrell Theater”. The marquee and the theater entrance are shown a number of times, throughout the movie. The interior of the second floor was used as the brothers' office. The arched windows can be seen, as well as the TIVOLI sign letters (in reverse, from behind, outside of the windows). The shots of the audience in the theater, watching the films, were not filmed in the Tivoli auditorium. There is a scene later in the movie (at 1:38:00) that was shot on the steps that descend from the exit doors of the Tivoli auditorium. (They can be seen on the street view.)
There is no credit given for the Tivoli or Hamilton as a shooting location. There is no mention in the commentary or on-screen in the credits. The end credits state: Filmed on location in Toronto, Ontario. I don’t know how much of the movie was actually filmed in Toronto. It’s a fairly good movie and a very interesting story. I haven’t seen “Behind the Green Door”, but I’ve seen the Tivoli. I saw “Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS” at the Tivoli. Does that count?

TivFan
TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

If you would like to see the former Tivoli marquee “in action”, see the Showtime movie “Rated X”. The theater was used to represent the O'Farrell Theater in San Francisco (in the 1970’s). “Rated X” is the true story of the Mitchell brothers (Jim & Artie) who created a porn empire. It was Jim’s idea to make their own films and show them in their own theater. It stars Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez, and was directed by Estevez.

TivFan
TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

Just to clarify my Dec. 3/9:04 comment: The ceiling in the “lounge” was added during the 1924 remodelling, when the Tivoli auditorium was built.

TivFan
TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 1:04 am

So here we are, over six years later. There is nothing we can do about past and people are going to have their opinions about the failure of former owners or tenants. What we have left is pretty fantastic, even in its current state. This is the last theater we have in this city, that is as old or beautifully designed. Unfortunately, there are many stages in town, and this could be a stumbling block against support for this type of building. Also, we don’t have a complete building. And if you restore it, you have to use it. It’s a delicate building and a delicate situation. Here’s hoping!

TivFan
TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 12:26 am

This remaining “lounge” portion shares the same address as the demolished building (110 James Street on this site, and I’ve seen 108 in the ads). The auditorium added in 1924 has a separate Hughson Street address.
When the James Street building had to be demolished, city council had to vote on demolition permits. Originally, the owner wanted to demolish the entire theater, but many wanted the auditorium saved. The city council meeting on this issue was agonizing and frustrating (I attended). If they voted for permits for demolition of the James Street address, this would have included the collapsed/damaged building and the “lounge” addition. There were council members voting on this issue, and they didn’t know the particulars of the situation at the Tivoli. Some members were very impassive, disinterested or bored. I observed some dozing or sleeping, doodling…frustrating, to say the least. And on a matter this important!

TivFan
TivFan on December 4, 2012 at 12:04 am

The “foyer lounge” remains, along with the 1924 auditorium. Behind the wood (as seen on the street view) is the arched opening to the lounge as seen in the “Box Office” photos. There is a concession stand on the right, and the stairs lead to the theater auditorium. The ceiling you see in the photos was added during the remodelling (and this is what it looks like at present). This area was originally the added silent movie auditorium. Above this ceiling is the original ceiling of the silent movie theater. It was discovered by a former tenant investigating a leak in the roof. This is a great piece of surviving history.

TivFan
TivFan on December 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Take a look at the “Box Office” article about the remodelling of the Tivoli in 1954. It will show you what was contained in the demolished building. The entrance is referred to as the outer “vestibule” and the inside as the “second lobby”. The photos of the remodelling show what the interior of the demolished portion looked like, and what the remaining portions look like at present. What I termed the “lobby”, is called the “foyer lounge” in the article. Terminology trouble…

TivFan
TivFan on December 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I have removed and corrected my former incorrect and erronious comment. The remaining portions of the Tivoli Theatre can be seen on the Google street view. From James Street, the lobby building can be seen with the larger auditorium beyond that. The auditorium extends to Hughson Street. Take the view to Wilson Street, and you can see side of the Tivoli behind the strip mall. Continue on to Hughson Street and see rear of the auditorium.

TivFan
TivFan on December 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

The last time there was any mention of the Tivoli in the local newspaper was in October 2011. You can see this article at thespec.ca. Enter “Tivoli” in “search this site” and on page 2, and select the article titled “Lister revived as Tivoli withers”. It’s a “softball article” but hopefully it brought some attention to the project. They should have done a follow-up article, asking: “Why IS the Tivoli withering?” to find out what is going on there. Have you seen the YouTube video? Yikes!

TivFan
TivFan on December 1, 2012 at 9:24 am

Even 2006 seems like a long time ago. I know restoration projects can take a number of years, but there have been no reports of the progress of the project. The latest aspect of the campaign was to let local artists paint murals/pictures on the lower portion of the exterior walls. I guess this was to induce interest or support from the arts community. If you look at the Google street view, you can see the grey- painted, lower portions of the exterior walls. This paint was applied to cover grafitti that appeared periodically here, and on the upper portions of the walls. A “parkette” was created on the vacant portion, so the property has been open to the public (and grafitti “artists”/vandals). And as seen in the street view, the property has been overgrown with weeds a number of times. Sweet.

TivFan
TivFan on December 1, 2012 at 8:13 am

Chuck. I must have been really tired yesterday morning. I meant 2006 as the start of the restoration campaign. Sorry about that. The demolished building was the entrance (on James Street) to the theater, with a hall or walkway that led to the lobby area. This building also contained washrooms, a box office and the managers' office. The lobby can be seen in the 1947 archive photo. There was a refreshment stand and there were stairs that led to the auditorium.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on December 1, 2012 at 2:09 am

If you look at the Google street view, you can see the red brick section of the theater that survives and the back (if you swing around to Hughson Street). It looks to me that the auditorium portion of the building is intact, but, like you, I am also skeptical about the lobby’s survival, as the theater’s frontage would presumably have occupied the vacant lot next to the payday loan center.

TivFan
TivFan on November 30, 2012 at 9:52 pm

The Tivoli lobby and auditorium are in good condition. The building that was demolished was built in the 1870’s. A small auditorium was added, and the demolished building served as an entrance to this silent movie theater. The large auditorium was built east- of/behind in 1924 and the theater was named the Tivoli. The former silent theater auditorium was converted to be the lobby. These two structures still exist. The Tivoli is still beautiful, even in its present condition. The roof has leaked, causing some damage to the interior. The interior also suffered the usual “Famous Players” paint job (high-contrast and garish color scheme).
A restoration project has been on-going since 1996. This is a public building, using public/government money for the restoration. But there have been no announcements or updates about the progress of the project and no accounting of how much money has been raised through fund-raising.

TivFan
TivFan on November 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

At the time of the demolition, the facade and marquee of the Tivoli Theatre looked much like they do in the above photograph. The only differences being the removal of the “FAMOUS PLAYERS” name & leaf logo, the building being painted dark brown and the removal of the neon in the TIVOLI letters. The outside box office had also been removed years before. OH! (and another thing) the Tivoli lobby and auditorium are STILL THERE!

TivFan
TivFan on November 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

No-No-No-No-NO!! The Tivoli Theatre auditorium and lobby are still standing. The building that partially collapsed and was later demolished only housed the theater entrance. The comments of Chad Irish and ScreenClassic are incorrect. Status should read: RESTORING…