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.
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.
The Paradise Theatre Today
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
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 1006 Bloor St W
- Ontario Heritage Trust: 1006 Bloor St W
- Toronto Star: Returning Paradise Theatre looks to events…
- ERA Architects: Portfolio: Paradise Theatre
- Taylor On History: Paradise Regained…
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives & Archives of Ontario
- Interior Photos: ParadiseOnBloor by photographer Rick O’Brien
- Toronto City Directory by Might Directories Ltd 1911, 1914, 1934 & 1950 courtesy of Toronto Public Library