Filmores Hotel – Toronto’s Heritage Property with a Colourful History

2021 - Filmores Hotel at Dundas St E and George St, looking northeast
2021 – Filmores Hotel at Dundas St E and George St, looking northeast

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, there was a low-rise apartment building boom in Toronto. In 1912, the City put a temporary ban on 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 design itself was influenced by the irregular shape of the lot 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.

1972 - The Westover Hotel, now Filmores, at Dundas St E and George St
1972 – The Westover Hotel, now Filmores, at Dundas St E and George St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 27, Item 21)

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 1980’s 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 parking lot on the east side of Filmores was also purchased by the developer for just over $20 million.

2020 - Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel Redevelopment plan at 212-218 Dundas St E
2020 – Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel Redevelopment plan at 212-218 Dundas St E (Menkes Developments Ltd)

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. At this time, there are no plans to make alterations to the heritage home.

Did You Know

  • In the mid 1850’s, 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 1800’s 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 to Sherbourne Sts) that was once known as Wilton Crescent (and later Dundas Crescent). On either side of Wilton Crescent was Wilton Ave (Yonge to George Sts and Sherbourne to River Sts). 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

2021 - Filmores Hotel at Dundas St E and George St, looking northeast
2021 – Filmores Hotel at Dundas St E and George St, looking northeast
1972 - The Westover Hotel, now Filmores, at Dundas St E and George St
1972 – The Westover Hotel, now Filmores, at Dundas St E and George St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 27, Item 21)
2021 - Signs and entrance of Filmores at Dundas St E and George St, northeast corner
2021 – Signs and entrance of Filmores at Dundas St E and George St, northeast corner
1983 - Filmores Hotel entrance
1983 – Filmores Hotel entrance (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 455, Item 7)
1923 - Wilton Court Private Hotel once at 212 Dundas St E, and George St now Filmores Hotel
1923 – Wilton Court Private Hotel once at 212 Dundas St E, and George St now Filmores Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Series 71, Item 2538)
1972 - This section of Dundas St E was once called Dundas Crescent (due to the shape), the Westover Hotel's restaurant and nightclub is on the far left
1972 – This section of Dundas St E was once called Dundas Crescent (due to the shape), the Westover Hotel’s restaurant and nightclub is on the far left (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds, 2032, Series 841, File 27, Item 22)
2021 - Filmores Hotel neon sign
2021 – Filmores Hotel neon sign
2019 - Filmores Hotel and its neon signs at night, on the northeast corner of Dundas St E and George St
2019 – Filmores Hotel and its neon signs at night, on the northeast corner of Dundas St E and George St
2021 - Filmores "Toronto's Party Place" at Dundas St E and George St, looking northwest
2021 – Filmores “Toronto’s Party Place” at Dundas St E and George St, looking northwest
2021 - Filmores Hotel with vintage blue and white George St sign
2021 – Filmores Hotel with vintage blue and white George St sign
2021 - Filmores on Dundas St E, looking west towards George St
2021 – Filmores on Dundas St E, looking west towards George St
2021 - Henry Tasker's Second Empire style house built in 1874 at 279½ George St, part of Filmores Hotel
2021 – Henry Tasker’s Second Empire style house built in 1874 at 279½ George St, part of Filmores Hotel
2021 - Filmores Hotel "Featuring To-night" sign
2021 – Filmores Hotel “Featuring To-night” sign
2021 - Filmores Hotel, looking north from Dundas St E and George St
2021 – Filmores Hotel, looking north from Dundas St E and George St
1923 - Filmores was once the Wilton Court Private Hotel (upper left side of photo), looking east along Dundas Crescent at George St
1923 – Filmores was once the Wilton Court Private Hotel (upper left side of photo), looking east along Dundas Crescent at George St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 2021)
2020 - Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel Redevelopment plan of proposed mixed-use condo tower at 212-218 Dundas St E
2020 – Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel Redevelopment plan of a proposed mixed-use condo tower at 212-218 Dundas St E (Menkes Developments Ltd)
2020 - Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel Redevelopment plan at 212-218 Dundas St E
2020 – Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel Redevelopment plan at 212-218 Dundas St E (Menkes Developments Ltd)
2021/1972 - Filmores Hotel at 212 Dundas St E
2021/1972 – Filmores Hotel at 212 Dundas St E (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 27, Item 21)
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