Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E (at George St on the northeast corner) in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto.
Once Part of the Moss Park Estate
In 1818, William Allan purchased a large plot of parkland for his Moss Park estate. His son George acquired the property directly north of it. When William passed away in 1853, George inherited his father’s portion of the land. Moss Park Estate was bounded by Dundas E, George, Gerrard E and Sherbourne Sts.
The Elegant Second Empire Home
The land was later subdivided, and this particular lot that Filmores Hotel is located on was purchased in 1872 by a merchant named Henry Tasker. Two years later, he built a 2½-storey, red brick home on the northern portion of the property. The Second Empire-style house features a Mansard roof, high-arched windows, yellow brick accents and decorative details. As the property changed hands, the various owners made alterations to the structure.
A Major Addition
In the early 20th century, Toronto had a low-rise apartment building boom. In 1912, the city temporarily banned constructing multi-unit structures, so to get around the rules, property owners would make alterations to existing buildings.
That same year, James Taylor Benor bought the property for $14,250 and acquired a building permit for a 3-storey “addition to rooming house.” Architects Symons and Rae designed the upscale addition called the Wilton Court Apartments. Incorporated into the south side of the Tasker House, the Edwardian Classical-style structure is clad with red brick and features stone highlights. The irregular shape of the lot influenced the design itself due to the curve of Dundas St E. This is emphasized in the sharply rounded corner entrance. Other architectural elements of the symmetrical building include quoins and band courses, as well as window lintels and sills.
The Wilton Court Hotel
By 1915, the name of the property had changed to Wilton Court Private Hotel. In 1927, Mr Benor transferred the property to his daughter, Nellie Brennan. Shortened to the Wilton Court Hotel, Ms Brennan kept it until 1945.
The Westover Hotel
Continuing to operate as a hotel, it became the Westover Hotel in the late 1950s featuring jazz entertainment in the basement. In the mid-1970s, the Westover lost its liquor license due to illegal activities going on at the hotel. The property was put on the market. In 1976, Stage 212 opened with a jazz club. By 1980, the hotel transitioned to feature adult entertainment.
The 1980s Brings a New Owner & Filmores Hotel
Mr Adams and a business partner purchased the property. The plans were to demolish the structure and construct an office tower. Those plans changed when the economy took a downturn. Now known as Filmores, the 56-room hotel and downstairs adult entertainment club remained. When Mr Adams passed away in the 1990s, his son Howard became more involved with the business and, in 2000, also bought out the partner.
Known for its cheeky marquee messages, neon-lit signs and being one of the Garden District’s most recognizable landmarks, Filmores Hotel was given heritage status by the city in 2016.
Filmores Hotel Sold & Future Plans for the Landmark
In January 2020, Menkes Developments Ltd purchased Filmores Hotel for $31.5 million. The developer also purchased the parking lot on the east side of Filmores for just over $20 million.
Menkes Developments Ltd and Core Development Group have plans to build a 46-storey, mixed-use residential condo. Designed by the architectural firm of Giannone Petricone Associates and spanning 212-218 Dundas St, the tower would rise over a base building which includes the façade of Filmores Hotel and new retail space. It’s scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Also, part of the property is Henry Tasker’s original home at 279½ George St. It’s currently a licensed rooming house. Currently, there are no plans to make alterations to the heritage home.
Did You Know
- In the mid-1850s, George Allan donated 5 acres of his Moss Park Estate to the Toronto Horticultural Society. Today we know it as the beautiful Allan Gardens.
- In the late 1800s, when the neighbourhood was being developed, it was an exclusive and upscale area.
- Filmores Hotel is on the small curve of Dundas St E, from George St to Sherbourne St, which was once known as Wilton Crescent (and later Dundas Crescent). A little more on Dundas St E… Yonge St to George St was once Wilton Ave, from George St to Sherbourne St was once Wilton Crescent, and from Sherbourne St to River St, it went back to Wilton Ave. Today, this major thoroughfare is Dundas St E.
- The architectural firm of Symons and Rae designed many upscale homes and low-rise apartment buildings in Toronto.
- Henry Tasker’s House is nearly 150 years old, while Filmores Hotel is over a century.
Filmores Hotel Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 212 Dundas St E
- City of Toronto: Research and Evaluation Summary: 212 Dundas Street East
- City of Toronto Report: 212-218 Dundas St E and 279 1/2 George Street – Official Plan Amendment, Zoning Amendment Applications – Preliminary Report
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: Jul 13, 1974, page 5
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: Feb 20, 1976, page 13
- Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Aug 21, 1976, page B1
- Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Jun 18, 2016, page GT4
- The Globe Newspaper Archives: Apr 8, 2017, page M3
- Toronto Star: Toronto landmark Filmores Hotel sold to developer for $31.5 million
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives
- Artist Rendering Illustrations: Menkes Developments Ltd (illustrations from submission to the City of Toronto)