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

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2022 - Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto

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 lot’s irregular shape 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, band courses, window lintels, and sills.

The Wilton Court Hotel

By 1915, the property’s name 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 - Looking northeast from Dundas St E and George St towards the Westover Hotel. Today, it's known as Filmores Hotel
1972 – Looking northeast from Dundas St E and George St towards the Westover Hotel. Today, it’s known as Filmores Hotel (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 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.

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.

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, 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 old.
  • Filmores was briefly shown in the very first episode of Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent, which aired February 22/24.

Filmores Hotel Photos

2021 - Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E and George St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2021 – Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E and George St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
1972 - Looking northeast from Dundas St E and George St towards the Westover Hotel. Today, it's known as Filmores Hotel
1972 – Looking northeast from Dundas St E and George St towards the Westover Hotel. Today, it’s known as Filmores Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 27, Item 21)
2021 - The front entrance of Filmores Hotel at 212 Dundas St E in Toronto
2021 – The front entrance of Filmores Hotel at 212 Dundas St E in Toronto
1983 - Filmores Hotel entrance
1983 – Filmores Hotel entrance (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 455, Item 7)
2021 - Filmores Hotel neon sign
2021 – Filmores Hotel neon sign
2022 - Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E in the Garden District of Toronto
2022 – Filmores Hotel is located at 212 Dundas St E in the Garden District of Toronto
1972 - Looking east along Dundas St E from George St. Notice Westover Hotel restaurant and nightclub in the foreground on the left
1972 – Looking east along Dundas St E from George St. Notice Westover Hotel restaurant and nightclub in the foreground on the left (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds, 2032, Series 841, File 27, Item 22)
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
September 18, 1923 – Looking northeast towards the Wilton Court Private Hotel. Today, it's home to Filmores Hotel at Dundas St E and George St
September 18, 1923 – Looking northeast towards the Wilton Court Private Hotel. Today, it’s home to Filmores Hotel at Dundas St E and George St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 2538)
December 24, 2023 - Looking northeast toward Filmores Hotel at the corner of Dundas St E and George St in Toronto's Garden District
December 24, 2023 – Looking northeast toward Filmores Hotel at the corner of Dundas St E and George St in Toronto’s Garden District
2021 - Filmores "Toronto's Party Place" at Dundas St E and George St
2021 – Filmores “Toronto’s Party Place” at Dundas St E and George St
2021 - Filmores Hotel with the vintage blue and white George St sign
2021 – Filmores Hotel with the vintage blue and white George St sign
2021 - Looking northwest towards Filmores Hotel on Dundas St E and George St
2021 – Looking northwest towards Filmores Hotel on Dundas St E and George St
1923 - Filmores Hotel was once the Wilton Court Private Hotel
1923 – Filmores Hotel was once the Wilton Court Private Hotel (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 2021)
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
2020 - Artist rendering of the Filmores Hotel redevelopment plan of a 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)
SOURCE
  • 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)

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