Downtown Theatre

102 James Street N,
Hamilton, ON LR8

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Famous Players

Architects: Fuller Claflin

Previous Names: Grand Opera House, Grand Theatre, Granada Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Downtown Exterior 1960

The Grand Opera House was opened on November 29, 1880 with 1,200 seats and the extravaganza “The Brook” performed by Salsbury’s Troubadours. It later became a movie theatre and was renamed Grand Theatre. In 1935 it was re-named Granada Theatre. On December 31, 1954 it was remodeled and renamed Downtown Theatre, reopening films being:-Rory Calhoun in “A Bullet is Waiting” & Rhonda Fleming in “The Golden Hawk”. It was closed and demolished in 1961.

Contributed by Chad Irish

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 12, 2009 at 3:10 am

The remodeling of the Granada Theatre and its reopening as the Downtown Theatre was the subject of an article in Boxoffice Magazine, April 2, 1955. The limited-budget project, done in-house by the Famous Players circuit, included the removal of much of the Granada’s old decoration, but (unfortunately) not the columns supporting the ancient balcony. A number of the Downtown’s 853 new seats must have been virtually unusable due to these columns interfering with their view of the new CinemaScope screen.

A few before-and-after photos illustrated the Boxoffice article.

Brian Morton
Brian Morton on November 15, 2009 at 11:30 am

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

Gord on August 27, 2011 at 10:24 am

I’m a former Dowontown Theatre employee (March, 1957/January, 1958) and have many fond memories of the place from both when I worked there and even more, in its previous incarnation as the Granada Theatre. I was living in Toronto at the time the Downtown was being demolished but had returned on that particular Saturday to visit my folks. Walking from the old CN Station up James Street I came upon the destruction in progress but managed to save the last posted showtimes for the last program the theatre played. Regretfully, it has since gotten lost in the mists of times. But there are memories, lots nad lots of very warm memories. I hate the look of that awful strip mall that replaced the theatre and the hotel adjacent to it and now also hate the look of what is left of the Tivoli Theatre. It’s all very sad, very sad indeed!

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 27, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Linkrot repair: The two-page, 1955 Boxoffice article about the remodeling of the Granada into the Downtown Theatre now begins at this link.

Gord on November 27, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Thank you Joe. It has been a long, long time since I saw a Granada Theatre marquee. So very much appreciative of the artcle from 1955.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 19, 2020 at 1:26 am

This article about the Grand Opera House was published in the May 27, 1905 issue of The Billboard:“Contracts were let on the 15th inst. between A. J. Small of Toronto, Can., and the Fuller Claflin Theatre Building Co., occupying the Department of Building of the New York Theatrical Stock Exchange, 1440 Broadway, for what will amount to practically a rebuildng of the Grand Opera House, Hamilton, Ontario. Work is to be started on the 29th inst., and to be finished on August 25th.

“The work will consist of building an enlarged stage in the rear of the present theatre, thereby increasing the present depth of the auditorium about 25 feet. An entirely new and enlarged balcony and gallery will be constructed and the first floor will be entirely rebuilt on modern lines.

“A new steam-heating system and a new electric lighting system will be installed. The reconstruction of the theatre, when completed, will make the Grand Opera House at Hamilton a thoroughly modern and up-to-date structure in every paticular, and equal to the majority of new theatres in the country.

“Mr. Small controls more than a score of theatres in Canada. Present improvements are in line with the progressive policy which he has inaugurated and intends following throughout his entire chain of houses.”A Skyscraper page forum post about Hamilton’s theaters said that this 1905 rebuild expanded the Grand’s seating capacity to 1,780. It seems plausible, though seating was likely reduced again in later years.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 19, 2020 at 1:36 am

Sorry. I left out the blockquote code in that comment, but CT’s spam filter system won’t let me post a corrected version. Maybe I’ll remember to fix it later.

rivest266 on December 5, 2023 at 2:33 pm

It opened as Grand Opera House on November 29th, 1880, and reopened on September 23rd, 1935. Grand opening ads posted.

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