Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre

189 Yonge Street,
Toronto, ON M5B 1M4

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Showing 1 - 25 of 31 comments

rivest266
rivest266 on March 1, 2014 at 1:43 pm

The December 15th, 1913 opening ad as Loew’s can be found in the photo section.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Hello Again-

i hope i understood my fellow posters replies correctly. to which that none of the grand old movie theaters or palaces to use the popular term built in Toronto specifically to be 1st run houses are still in operation as such from the day they opened. this puts Toronto in the same boat as NYC, Chicago and San Francisco.

also to my fellow poster’s comment on the Castro Theater in San Francisco. the Castro is most certainly a movie palace and it deserves our admiration in that its in damn good shape and has continued in operation since it opened in 1922. but and there’s always a but. my original post or inquiry was about grand old movie theaters/ palaces that were built from the get go specifically as 1st run theaters. unfortunately the Castro doesn’t qualify since its always been my understanding that the theater was built from the get go as a 2nd/3rd run neighborhood theater.

telliott
telliott on July 19, 2012 at 5:09 am

As a native Torontonian I can attest that all of the original movie palaces (Imperial, Loews, Loews Uptown, Sheas etc) are gone or have other uses, most notably the Imperial, now the Ed Mirvish legitmate theatre and Loews, the Elgin/Winter Garden. There are a few single screens left, the Fox and Revue being the oldest, then the Kingsway, Royal, Mt Pleasant, Regent and Bloor. The single screen Eglinton which opened as a neighbourhood theatre in 1936 and went on to become one of the most successful roadshow houses in the city is now an event theatre (weddings, banquets etc) as is the single screen Capitol.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on July 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I think the last operating true movie palace in downtown Toronto was probably the Uptown, also a Thomas Lamb design of the 1920s, which closed and was razed in 2003. There are at least two single screen theaters still operating in Toronto that date to the 1940s or even earlier; the Kingsway and the Bloor. The twinned Fox in the eastern part of the city dates to 1914. There is also the twinned Humber, which opened in 1949 (although its current status seems a bit uncertain).

Regarding San Francisco: most San Franciscans as well as myself certainly regard the landmark Castro Theater as a palace (though perhaps less elegant than say the long gone Fox and Paramount there). Also there is an operating porn theater, the Market Street Cinema which had long and distinguished history; it was once a Grauman house and a Loew’s and hosted a number of roadshows in the 1960s before it became what it is now. San Francisco still has some historic and classic neighborhood houses; look at the San Francisco list of theaters for some of these survivors.

robboehm
robboehm on July 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm

From my Toronto trips I would say that anything that is still intact from “the day” is now used for concert or legit presentations. There are very few single screens in Toronto. If you want to do some research just enter Toronto and look at every theatre. If CT says single screen and open then look at the individual entries for details. And on that subject, the Beacon in NYC is a concert venue. There are a few Broadway Theatres which have films in their history, but I can’t recall if any of them were originally film or just showed films at some point. Also, on Staten Island, the St. George has been beautifully restored and sometimes shows films. Some fabulous pictures on the site. Also check out the Hudson in NYC. Great restoration. A lot of the biggies became churches. The Albemarle in Brooklyn is amazing.

In San Francisco, the cavernous Golden Gate is used for live theatre. I believe it started out with films

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

Hello Again-

i admit i’m not the world’s best typist. so in my post it should read “even if they’re still standing”.

bigjoe59
bigjoe59 on July 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

Hello To Canadian Neighbors-

i’m from NYC and have been posting a question on pages for big cities of which Toronto is certainly one. here goes- the big era of grand old movie theater building or palaces to use the popular term in the U.S. was approx. 1913-1941. now none of the grand old movie theaters/palaces built in this period in NYC specifically as 1st run theaters continue to do so if if they’re still standing. now L.A. has Grauman’s Chinese among a few and Washington,D.C. has the Uptown but like NYC San Francisco has zippo. so i was wondering if any of the grand old movie theaters/ palaces built in Toronto in the above mentioned period have continued to operate as 1st run venues in more or less their original condition since the day they opened.

robboehm
robboehm on July 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

That was then. The restoration is superb. They even included mirrors in the lobby which were part of the original design but not installed at the time of consturction. As I commented above, this is a must see. Unfortunately the Winter Garden, under the restoration/landmark rule does not have a regular projection system. When they do have a film presentation, which they did when last I was there, they had to bring in “portable” equipment.

Tinseltoes
Tinseltoes on July 18, 2012 at 5:53 am

Hideous draping of Loew’s Yonge St. auditorium shown in 1961 trade ad at bottom of this page: Boxoffice

socal09
socal09 on June 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm

The interior of the upstairs auditorium, The Winter Garden, is amazing with all the leaves dangling from the ceiling.

robboehm
robboehm on February 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

If you’re ever in Toronto, make sure you take the free tour.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on January 6, 2010 at 12:17 am

Here’s an updated link to the 1929 photo I posted on June 4, 2008: View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on January 5, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Elgin/Winter Garden prior to restoration: View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on August 29, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Photo of the Winter Garden’s side boxes:
View link

igoudge
igoudge on July 8, 2009 at 9:44 am

Once the Uptown shut its doors back in 2003 this ended up becoming my most frequented theatre for the toronto film festival just to sheer volume of the great programming and the historic and prestine nature of the theatre itself. It is just absolutely gorgeous. Rivals the El Captitan in my opinion in terms of viewing experience and wish there were more opportunities to watch films here *fingers crossed.

SilentToronto
SilentToronto on May 28, 2009 at 8:09 pm

Check out a fang-tastic ad from 1978 for a Hammer Dracula triple-bill at the Elgin!

robboehm
robboehm on May 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm

The Winter Garden is one substantial theatre. It boggles the mind to think that it’s atop another. According to my guide, there is actually a glorified crawl space between the two theatres. The only indication that there is a massive structure above it in the Elgin auditorium are a couple of substantial columns toward the rear of the orchestra. The current main lobby is actually more ornate than it was originally. According to the guide the way it is now is the way it was designed, but not executed.

robboehm
robboehm on March 6, 2009 at 5:15 am

On second thought I think Cats played the Elgin, Phantom was at the Pantages.

telliott
telliott on March 5, 2009 at 8:05 pm

When Loews was sold to 20th Century Theatres in 1969, it was re-named the Yonge…then several years later when Famous Players renovated it, it was then re-named Elgin. The only reason i think those names were chosen is because the tall vertical sign had room for 5 letters, hence Yonge and Elgin. Since there was an Elgin in Ottawa, they probably thought this was a good name for the theatre in Toronto. Probably had nothing to do with what letters were left over from Loews.

robboehm
robboehm on March 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm

The lower theatre was originally Loew’s Younge Street; the upper theatre then and now the Winter Garden. Since the Winter Garden was never a movie theatre, when the building achieved a landmark status it could not be equipped for traditional movie showing. When I was last up there they were having some sort of presentation which involved a glorified power point presentation.

Rumor also has it that when the lower, movie theatre, was no longer under the Loew’s umbrella, they used illuminated letters which were still available to rename the theatre – hence, Elgin. It supposedly is not named for a person, e.g. Lord Elgin. But that makes absolutely no sense since there is no “I” in Loew’s Yonge Street.

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 4, 2008 at 8:24 am

Oops; sorry. This is the correct link to the 1929 photo:

View link

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 4, 2008 at 8:16 am

The marquee of Loew’s Yonge Street can be seen on he right in this 1929 photo:

View link

universalmusicals
universalmusicals on March 7, 2006 at 5:11 am

I took the walking tour last summer. It is truly an astonishing place. According to the guides there are only three of these double-deckers left in North America. The Elgin-Winter Garden is the only fully operational one. The others are the New Amsterdam in NYC which has not restored the roof garden theatre (famous from the Ziegfeld days) and one in New Jersey, which is sadly rumored to be slated for demolition. When inToronto, definitely make time to tour this theatre.