Alumnae Theatre – Once the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4

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1905 - The opening year of the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The former fire station has been home to the Alumnae Theatre Company since 1972
1905 – The opening year of the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The former fire station has been home to the Alumnae Theatre Company since 1972 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 41, Item 800)

The former Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4, today’s Alumnae Theatre, is located at 70 Berkeley St (at Adelaide St E on the southwest corner) in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Berkeley Street Fire Hall

In 1859, the original Fire Hall No. 4 was constructed on the site at Berkeley St and Duke St (when Adelaide St E was known as Duke St). In 1871, the station was enlarged to house fire engines with designs by architects James Grand and William Irving.

The following year, City Council approved the immediate construction of a tower at the Berkeley St Fire Hall to hang and dry the hoses. The 24 m or 80 ft tower was to look similar to that on the former Yonge Street fire station (between Grenville St and Grosvenor St, or what is also known as the St Charles Tavern). Grand and Irving were once again commissioned for the tower’s design. When completed, both towers looked very similar, including the red brick cladding, slate roof, wood detailing, round openings below the roofline, the bell-cast mansard roof with round-arched window openings and classical keystones and a four-sided wooden top with cross-hatched details. See the photos of each below for a comparison.

In the early 1900s, the Medical Officer of Health deemed the station unsanitary, so in 1905, the previous structures were demolished; however, the tower was retained.

The new firehouse was designed by architect Alexander Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style. The red brick and stone building has many beautiful details. Above the two former fire truck entrance doors, on the east-facing front, is a grand arched window that features stone and brick patterning. Other interesting elements include arched gables, a bay window, and flathead windows with stone sills and lintels.

In 1952, the wooden top portion of the tower was removed. Toronto’s Fire Hall No. 4 was decommissioned in 1970.

Saving the Neighbourhood Landmark

There were plans to tear down the former fire station and convert the land into a parkette. The building was in bad shape – its roof was leaking, wiring was exposed in some areas, and there were cracks in the exterior. The members of the University Alumnae Dramatic Club saw past the building’s repairs and battled to save the beautiful building from demolition.

The Alumnae Theatre Company

2021 - Alumnae Theatre Company at 70 Berkeley St. In 1972, the former fire hall was converted into a theatre with designs by architect Ron Thom whose wife Molly was a member of The Alum
2021 – Alumnae Theatre Company at 70 Berkeley St. In 1972, the former fire hall was converted into a theatre with designs by architect Ron Thom whose wife Molly was a member of The Alum

Today known as the Alumnae Theatre Company, the organization was founded in 1918 by a group of women graduates from the University of Toronto. The group performed on various stages in the city throughout the years, including the Hart House Theatre and in 1972, they found their permanent home at the old fire station.

After more than $100,000 in renovations and restorations, the 154-seat Firehall Theatre opened. The redesign was created by notable architect Ron Thom, whose wife Molly was a long-time member of The Alum.

The handsome building, which received heritage status in 1973 and was renamed the Alumnae Theatre in 1978, has two theatres – the fully-equipped Mainstage theatre and the more intimate, Studio theatre. There’s also rehearsal space, a large wardrobe department, a workshop, a lobby and a backstage area. And did we mention there’s a friendly ghost?!

“We seek to be reflective of the diversity of Toronto on our stage and in our organization”

With the exception of some male actors, the Alumnae Theatre Company is operated entirely by women – from the writing, acting and directing to the management, artistic programming and administration. Over a century old, it’s the longest-running theatre company in North America operated by women.

Across from the theatre are the historic 55-79 Berkeley Street Row Houses on the east side of the street.

Alumnae Theatre/Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 Photos

1905 - The opening year of the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The former fire station has been home to the Alumnae Theatre Company since 1972
1905 – The opening year of the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The former fire station has been home to the Alumnae Theatre Company since 1972 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 41, Item 800)
Circa 1970 – The Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 is today home to the Alumnae Theatre Company. Notice the lower windows are boarded up, and the building still has garage doors. The fire station was decommissioned in 1970
Circa 1970 – The Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 is today home to the Alumnae Theatre Company. Notice the lower windows are boarded up, and the building still has garage doors. The fire station was decommissioned in 1970 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 144, Item 9)
1972 - The Alumnae Theatre Company is located in the former Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 at 70 Berkeley St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The theatre company was founded in 1918 by a group of women graduates from the University of Toronto
1972 – The Alumnae Theatre Company is located in the former Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 at 70 Berkeley St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. The theatre company was founded in 1918 by a group of women graduates from the University of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 21, Item 25)
2023 – Looking southwest at Berkeley St and Adelaide St E, towards the Alumnae Theatre, originally home to Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4. Notice the modern buildings surrounding the heritage-designated building
2023 – Looking southwest at Berkeley St and Adelaide St E, towards the Alumnae Theatre, originally home to Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4. Notice the modern buildings surrounding the heritage-designated building
2023 – Looking west towards the Alumnae Theatre at 70 Berkeley St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. Built in the early 1900s, the building was originally the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 until it was decommissioned in 1970. The theatre company saved the historic building from demolition and since 1972 has been home to the theatre
2023 – Looking west towards the Alumnae Theatre at 70 Berkeley St in the Old Town neighbourhood of Toronto. Built in the early 1900s, the building was originally the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 until it was decommissioned in 1970. The theatre company saved the historic building from demolition and since 1972 has been home to the theatre
1972 - Looking southwest towards the Firehall Theatre, today known as Alumnae Theatre at Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. In 1972, the theatre underwent renovation and restoration with designs by architect Ron Thom
1972 – Looking southwest towards the Firehall Theatre, today known as Alumnae Theatre at Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. In 1972, the theatre underwent renovation and restoration with designs by architect Ron Thom (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, ID 41)
2021 - Looking southwest towards the Alumnae Theatre, originally the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 at Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. Built in 1905, the structure was designed by architect Alexander Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style
2021 – Looking southwest towards the Alumnae Theatre, originally the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 at Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. Built in 1905, the structure was designed by architect Alexander Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style
1905 - The east facade of Fire Hall No. 4, located on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. The photo was taken the year the station was constructed
1905 – The east facade of Fire Hall No. 4, located on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. The photo was taken the year the station was constructed (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 41, Item 86)
2021 - Alumnae Theatre Company at 70 Berkeley St. In 1972, the former fire hall was converted into a theatre with designs by architect Ron Thom whose wife Molly was a member of The Alum
2021 – Alumnae Theatre Company at 70 Berkeley St. In 1972, the former fire hall was converted into a theatre with designs by architect Ron Thom whose wife Molly was a member of The Alum
1952 - Looking northwest from Berkeley St, just south of Adelaide St E, towards Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4. The tower was used to hang the hoses to dry. Notice the tower once had windows in the mid-section and a four-sided wooden top with Roman lattice-style details
1952 – Looking northwest from Berkeley St, just south of Adelaide St E, towards Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4. The tower was used to hang the hoses to dry. Notice the tower once had windows in the mid-section and a four-sided wooden top with Roman lattice-style details (Toronto Public Library R-2812)
October 1952 - Looking northwest on Berkeley St towards Fire Hall No. 4 and Adelaide St E in the Old Town neighbourhood. The fire station was decommissioned in 1970 and is today the Alumnae Theatre
October 1952 – Looking northwest on Berkeley St towards Fire Hall No. 4 and Adelaide St E in the Old Town neighbourhood. The fire station was decommissioned in 1970 and is today the Alumnae Theatre (Toronto Public Library R-2814)
Circa 1970 - Originally the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4, today the Alumnae Theatre is located at 70 Berkeley St
Circa 1970 – Originally the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4, today the Alumnae Theatre is located at 70 Berkeley St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 144, Item 2)
Circa 1970 - Notice the architectural details in the hose tower at Alumnae Theatre, including the stone trim, round window openings and the mansard roof. Before its wooden top was removed in 1952, the tower stood 24 m tall. I haven't seen too many convertible Mustangs
Circa 1970 – Notice the architectural details in the hose tower at Alumnae Theatre, including the stone trim, round window openings and the mansard roof. Before its wooden top was removed in 1952, the tower stood 24 m tall. I haven’t seen too many convertible Mustangs (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2043, Series 2523, File 144, Item 1)
2020 - Looking northwest towards the former hose tower of the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4, home to Alumnae Theatre Company since 1972
2020 – Looking northwest towards the former hose tower of the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4, home to Alumnae Theatre Company since 1972
2023 - The Alumnae Theatre is a neighbourhood landmark. In the early 1970s, members of the University Alumnae Dramatic Club, today's Alumnae Theatre Company, saved the beautiful building from demolition
2023 – The Alumnae Theatre is a neighbourhood landmark. In the early 1970s, members of the University Alumnae Dramatic Club, today’s Alumnae Theatre Company, saved the beautiful building from demolition
2023 - The hose tower of the former Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 and the hand-painted Bell Box at 70 Berkeley St. The mural's theme was“commedia dell’arte,” and it was painted by artist Natasha Kudashkina. Since 1972, the former fire hall has been home to the Alumnae Theatre
2023 – The hose tower of the former Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 and the hand-painted Bell Box at 70 Berkeley St. The mural’s theme was“commedia dell’arte,” and it was painted by artist Natasha Kudashkina. Since 1972, the former fire hall has been home to the Alumnae Theatre Company
2022 - Looking southwest toward the tower that was once part of the former Yonge Street Fire Hall No. 3, later part of St Charles Tavern. Built in the early 1870s, the hose tower was designed by architects James Grand and William Irving. The tower has been restored and is part of Halo Residences on Yonge Condo development. The Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 hose tower once looked similar to the Yonge Street tower
2022 – Looking southwest toward the tower that was once part of the former Yonge Street Fire Hall No. 3, later part of St Charles Tavern. Built in the early 1870s, the hose tower was designed by architects James Grand and William Irving. The tower has been restored and is part of Halo Residences on Yonge Condo development. The Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4 hose tower once looked similar to the Yonge Street tower
Circa 1924 - Members of Shift 2, No. 4 Fire Station, Berkeley St
Circa 1924 – Members of Shift 2, No. 4 Fire Station, Berkeley St (History of the Toronto Fire Department by Local 113 – 1924)
1977 - Alumnae Theatre at 70 Berkeley St was originally called the Firehall Theatre. In the early 1970s, members of the University Alumnae Dramatic Club, today known as the Alumnae Theatre Company, saved the former fire hall from demolition
1977 – Alumnae Theatre at 70 Berkeley St was originally called the Firehall Theatre. In the early 1970s, members of the University Alumnae Dramatic Club, today known as the Alumnae Theatre Company, saved the former fire hall from demolition (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 7, ID 47)
2020 - The grand arched window over the two former fire truck entrance doors at the Alumnae Theatre
2020 – The grand arched window over the two former fire truck entrance doors at the Alumnae Theatre
2021 - The hose tower and brickwork details on the building once home to the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4. The tower was built in 1872, and the remainder of the building was constructed in 1905. Today it's the Alumnae Theatre
2021 – The hose tower and brickwork details on the building once home to the Berkeley Street Fire Hall No. 4. The tower was built in 1872, and the remainder of the building was constructed in 1905. Today it’s the Alumnae Theatre
2021 - The Adelaide St E side door at the Alumnae Theatre. The building originally served as one of Toronto's fire stations
2021 – The Adelaide St E side door at the Alumnae Theatre. The building originally served as one of Toronto’s fire stations
2020 - The main facade of the Alumnae Theatre on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. The former firehouse was designed by architect Alexander Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style
2020 – The main facade of the Alumnae Theatre on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Adelaide St E. The former firehouse was designed by architect Alexander Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style
2021 - The Berkeley Street Firehall No. 4 1905 heritage plaque reads: 

“This building was designed by architect A. Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style to replace an earlier firehall on this site. Marked by arched gables, it also features rich contrasts in brick and stone, most visible around the grand second-storey window. Fire engines once entered through garage doors (now windows) and fire hoses were dried in the tower, which has since been reduced in size. In 1972, the hall was renovated as a theatre by architect Ron Thom for the Alumnae Theatre Company.
City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties, 1973
Heritage Toronto 2010”
2021 – The Berkeley Street Firehall No. 4 1905 heritage plaque reads:

“This building was designed by architect A. Frank Wickson in the Edwardian Classical style to replace an earlier firehall on this site. Marked by arched gables, it also features rich contrasts in brick and stone, most visible around the grand second-storey window. Fire engines once entered through garage doors (now windows) and fire hoses were dried in the tower, which has since been reduced in size. In 1972, the hall was renovated as a theatre by architect Ron Thom for the Alumnae Theatre Company.

City of Toronto Inventory of Heritage Properties, 1973 Heritage Toronto 2010”
1871 - Looking southwest from Berkeley St and Duke St (today's Adelaide St E) towards the newly constructed Engine House at Fire Hall No. 4. The building was designed by architects James Grand and William Irving. The tower was added in 1872. In the early 1900s, the Medical Officer of Health deemed the station unsanitary, so in 1905, the previous structures were torn down however, the tower was retained and incorporated into the present-day building
1871 – Looking southwest from Berkeley St and Duke St (today’s Adelaide St E) towards the newly constructed Engine House at Fire Hall No. 4. The building was designed by architects James Grand and William Irving. The tower was added in 1872. In the early 1900s, the Medical Officer of Health deemed the station unsanitary, so in 1905, the previous structures were torn down however, the tower was retained and incorporated into the present-day building (Toronto Public Library R-2864)
1880 - Goads Map showing the location of the original Fire Hall No. 4 and tower on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Duke St (today's Adelaide St E). In 1905, the fire hall was torn down with the exception of the tower and replaced with the present-day structure, which today is home to the Alumnae Theatre
1880 – Goads Map showing the location of the original Fire Hall No. 4 and tower on the southwest corner of Berkeley St and Duke St (today’s Adelaide St E). In 1905, the fire hall was torn down with the exception of the tower and replaced with the present-day structure, which today is home to the Alumnae Theatre (Toronto Public Library)
2023 - The mural on the Bell Box in front of the Alumnae Theatre tower at 70 Berkeley St was painted by artist Natasha Kudashkina. The theme for the artwork was "commedia dell'arte"
2023 – The mural on the Bell Box in front of the Alumnae Theatre tower at 70 Berkeley St was painted by artist Natasha Kudashkina. The theme for the artwork was “commedia dell’arte”
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