Paradise Theatre – Toronto’s Beautifully Restored Art Deco Venue

1937 - Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave, northwest corner. On the marquee, “One in a Million,” starring Sonja Henie, Adolphe Menjou and Don Ameche and “Sworn Enemy,” starring Robert Young, Florence Rice and Joseph Calleia, were playing and both released in 1936
1937 – Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave, northwest corner (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1150)

The Paradise Theatre is located at ‪1006 Bloor St W (at Westmoreland Ave on the northwest corner) in the Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Architecture of the World War II Era Theatre

Built in 1937, this gem was designed by architect Benjamin Brown in magnificent Art Deco style. There were over 640 seats in the theatre, including the balcony. The two-storey, rectangular building features several heritage elements, including the exterior buff brick cladding with cast stone and brick detailing. Projecting over the main entrances is a rounded-corner marquee. A similar style is also seen in the wing that extends along the Westmoreland Ave side.

On the lower storey of the south facade, the outside box office is flanked by two main entrances, each with terrazzo floors displaying geometric shapes. The second storey features rows of narrow stone quoins and five flat-headed window openings, each with stone detailing. Above two of these windows are elegant cast stone pilaster strips which wrap over the centred parapet.

Changes Throughout the Years

In 1957, the theatre changed ownership and became the Paradise Kino, showing German films. In 1966, a local Italian family purchased the theatre and called it Nuovo Cinema Paradise. The Italian theatre screened unsubtitled Italian movies. In the 1980s, the family leased the building to an adult theatre chain, and it was renamed Eve’s Paradise.

In 1990, the Paradise became part of the local Festival Cinemas chain. They screened repertory and arthouse movies in a few single-screen theatres around Toronto, including the Fox, Kingsway, Revue and Royal. In 2006, the chain shut down, closing Paradise Theatre. One year later, the building was given heritage status.

Award-Winning Restoration

2020 - The Paradise Theatre sign at dusk
2020 – The Paradise Theatre sign at dusk

In the early 2010s, Moray Tawse, owner of Tawse Winery, purchased Paradise Theatre. Mr Tawse hired Toronto-based firm ERA Architects, which specializes in heritage conservation, to restore the neighbourhood landmark to its former glory. Since some of the theatre’s architectural attributes were lost over time, the architects relied on historical photos and researched similar era theatres. Some of the updates include:

  • The reconstruction of the Paradise Theatre’s marquee and blade sign. While the “Paradise” blade sign had been replaced for several years with a much smaller sign, today’s “PARADISE” sign looks very much like it did when the theatre first opened. The skilled team created the impressive and eye-catching neon sign at Pride Signs.
  • The stainless-steel box office and entrance doors were also reconstructed as the originals, at some point, had been removed.
  • Solid Design Creative, a design firm that focuses on commercial interiors, had a goal to create a world-class theatre, restaurant and cocktail bar while preserving the theatre’s Art Deco heritage.

Since its completion and re-opening in 2019, the Paradise Theatre has won awards for restoration from the Architectural Conservancy Ontario and the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals.

The Paradise Theatre Today

2021 - Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W at Westmoreland Ave, northwest corner
2021 – Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W at Westmoreland Ave, northwest corner

This beautiful venue features a theatre, restaurant and cocktail bar. The plush and roomy 220-seat theatre with a balcony features state-of-the-art technology. Plus, there’s a retractable screen to show movies and a stage for live performances. Classic concessions like popcorn, candy, chocolate bars, pop and bottled water are available plus the sleek venue is also fully licensed. The Osteria Rialto restaurant features fresh, seasonal Italian dishes, while the Bar Biltmore serves spritzes, sours and more. Visit the Paradise Theatre website for more information.

Did You Know?

  • Before the Paradise Theatre was built in 1937, the site was home to another theatre building. It appears in the 1911 Toronto Directory as the Palace Theatre. By 1914, the directory shows the name had changed to Bloor Palace Theatre. From 1918 to 1936, the City directory shows the address as the Kitchener Theatre.
  • The architect Benjamin Brown was one of the earliest practising Jewish architects in the City. Mr Brown also designed two buildings at Spadina Ave and Adelaide St W – The Tower Building on the northwest corner and The Balfour Building on the northeast corner. The Art Deco buildings frame Spadina Ave and are considered a gateway to the centre of Toronto’s garment district. It’s also thought that Mr Brown designed the then Yiddish Standard Theatre, later known as the Victory Burlesque Theatre, at Dundas St W and Spadina Ave.
  • Because of Paradise Theatre’s size, positioning and style, the building has long been considered a focal-point property in the Dovercourt area.
  • A few of the projects by ERA Architects include the restoration of the King Edward Hotel, the Old Don Jail and the refresh of Allen Gardens, to name a few.

Paradise Theatre Photos

2022 – Looking northwest towards Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave. Notice the tower of The Church in the background
2022 – Looking northwest towards Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave. Notice the tower of The Church in the background
1937 - Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave, northwest corner. On the marquee, “One in a Million,” starring Sonja Henie, Adolphe Menjou and Don Ameche and “Sworn Enemy,” starring Robert Young, Florence Rice and Joseph Calleia, were playing and both released in 1936
1937 – Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave, northwest corner. On the marquee, “One in a Million,” starring Sonja Henie, Adolphe Menjou and Don Ameche and “Sworn Enemy,” starring Robert Young, Florence Rice and Joseph Calleia, were playing and both released in 1936 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Series 1230, Item 1150)
2020 - Paradise Theatre's neon sign at dusk
2020 – Paradise Theatre’s neon sign at dusk
2021 - The south facade of the Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave
2021 – The south facade of the Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave
2020 - The terrazzo floor, ticket booth and entrance of the Paradise Theatre
2020 – The terrazzo floor, ticket booth and entrance of the Paradise Theatre
1946 - The lobby at the Paradise Theatre
1946 – The lobby at the Paradise Theatre (Archives of Ontario File RG 56-11-0-311)
1946 - The auditorium and screen at the Paradise Theatre
1946 – The auditorium and screen at the Paradise Theatre (Archives of Ontario File RG 56-11-0-311)
Date unknown - The auditorium and balcony, looking from the stage at the Paradise Theatre
Date unknown – The auditorium and balcony, looking from the stage at the Paradise Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Ken Webster Fonds, Fonds 251, Series 1278, File 127)
2019 - The Paradise Theatre looking west along Bloor St W from Westmoreland Ave at dusk. On the marquee, "The Ugly Black Woman" and "Honey Boy" were playing
2019 – The Paradise Theatre looking west along Bloor St W from Westmoreland Ave at dusk. On the marquee, “The Ugly Black Woman” and “Honey Boy” were playing
2021 - The Paradise Theatre neon sign
2021 – The Paradise Theatre neon sign
2022 – Looking east along Bloor St W towards the Paradise Theatre
2022 – Looking east along Bloor St W towards the Paradise Theatre
2019 - The Paradise Theatre during restoration
2019 – The Paradise Theatre during restoration
2014 - The Paradise Theatre entrance, marquee and sign
2014 – The Paradise Theatre entrance, marquee and sign (TaylorOnHistory.com)
1990s - Looking northwest towards the Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave. On the marquee, “The Crying Game,” starring Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson and Forest Whitaker and “Unforgiven,” starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, were playing and both released in 1992
1990s – Looking northwest towards the Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave. On the marquee, “The Crying Game,” starring Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson and Forest Whitaker and “Unforgiven,” starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, were playing and both released in 1992 (Archives of Ontario File RG 56-11-0-311 and TaylorOnHistory.com)
2020 - The lobby of the Paradise Theatre
2020 – The lobby of the Paradise Theatre (courtesy of ParadiseOnBloor by photographer Rick O’Brien)
2021 - The lobby of the Paradise Theatre
2021 – The lobby of the Paradise Theatre
2020 - The auditorium and balcony at the Paradise Theatre
2020 – The auditorium and balcony at the Paradise Theatre (courtesy of ParadiseOnBloor by photographer Rick O’Brien)
Paradise Theatre
2020 – Bar Biltmore at the Paradise Theatre (courtesy of ParadiseOnBloor by photographer Rick O’Brien)
2020 - Osteria Rialto Restaurant at the Paradise Theatre
2020 – Osteria Rialto Restaurant at the Paradise Theatre (courtesy of ParadiseOnBloor by photographer Rick O’Brien)
2020 - Osteria Rialto Patio at the Paradise Theatre
2020 – Osteria Rialto Patio at the Paradise Theatre (courtesy of ParadiseOnBloor)
2021 - Looking northeast on Bloor St W towards the Paradise Theatre and Westmoreland Ave
2021 – Looking northeast on Bloor St W towards the Paradise Theatre and Westmoreland Ave
2022 – Built in 1937, the Paradise Theatre was designed by architect Benjamin Brown in magnificent Art Deco style
2022 – Built in 1937, the Paradise Theatre was designed by architect Benjamin Brown in magnificent Art Deco style
2022 – Looking northwest towards the entrance of the Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W in the Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood
2022 – Looking northwest towards the entrance of the Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W in the Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood
2022 – The terrazzo floor, exterior ticket booth and the entrance of the Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W
2022 – The terrazzo floor, exterior ticket booth and the entrance of the Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W
2022 – Looking north towards the main facade of the Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave
2022 – Looking north towards the main facade of the Paradise Theatre at Bloor St W and Westmoreland Ave
2022 – Looking north towards the ticket booth, entrance and marquee of Paradise Theatre
2022 – Looking north towards the ticket booth, entrance and marquee of Paradise Theatre
2020 – Looking west along Bloor St W from Westmoreland Ave towards the Paradise Theatre
2020 – Looking west along Bloor St W from Westmoreland Ave towards the Paradise Theatre
2021 - Looking northwest towards the Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W at Westmoreland Ave in the Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood
2021 – Looking northwest towards the Paradise Theatre at 1006 Bloor St W at Westmoreland Ave in the Bloorcourt Village neighbourhood
Early 1950s - Looking northwest towards Paradise Theatre. On the marquee, “Toto terzo uomo,” starring Toto, Ughetto Bertucci and Liana Billi, was playing and released in 1951
Early 1950s – Looking northwest towards Paradise Theatre. On the marquee, “Toto terzo uomo,” starring Toto, Ughetto Bertucci and Liana Billi, was playing and released in 1951 (City of Toronto Archives, Ken Webster Fonds, Fonds 251, Series 1278)
1934 - Looking west on Bloor St W from just east of Westmoreland Ave
1934 – Looking west on Bloor St W from just east of Westmoreland Ave (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 10494)
1950 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Paradise Theatre
1950 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the Paradise Theatre (Toronto Public Library)
1934 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address as the Kitchener Theatre, from 1918 to 1937
1934 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address as the Kitchener Theatre, from 1918 to 1937 (Toronto Public Library)
1914 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address as the Bloor Palace Theatre, from 1914 to 1917
1914 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address as the Bloor Palace Theatre, from 1914 to 1917 (Toronto Public Library)
1911 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address as the Palace Theatre
1911 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address as the Palace Theatre (Toronto Public Library)
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