The University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W (west of Bay St on the north side) in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto.
University Theatre’s Wavy Facade
When the theatre opened in 1949, it was one of the first large post-war movie houses built by Famous Players Limited. Designed by architect Eric Wilfrid Hounsom, the theatre featured Art Moderne influences with a gently curved-cut limestone facade towering 10.6 m or 35 ft high. It had a split marquee, ticket booth, glass doors and a two-storey black granite framed window naturally lit the interior stairway. University Theatre had one of the largest screens in the city, a balcony and over 1,300 plush seats.
Through the Years
University Theatre, located on what was known as the Mink Mile, screened some of the biggest blockbusters for nearly four decades. The building received heritage status in 1986, but the theatre closed that year because of declining attendance.
The property owners demolished much of the theatre, turning it into a parking lot; however, the features deemed heritage remained. They included the cut-marble base, stainless-steel door frames and handles, front window, cantilevered canopies and limestone façade. While the façade was braced from behind, it was also left to deteriorate.
Restoration of the Facade
The new developers of the prime real estate site were tasked with restoring the historic façade. Each limestone block was taken down, numbered, cleaned, patched and rebuilt. The total cost for the façade restoration was $1 million. Completed in 2002 and part of a condominium at 10 Bellair St, it became part of the storefront retail and was home to Pottery Barn until 2017.
About Eric Hounsom
The architect, Eric Hounsom, went to Central Tech High School. He worked for Kaplan & Sprachman, a prominent Canadian architectural firm that designed many beautiful vintage theatres across the country. Mr Hounsom also had his own practice designing theatres, churches, schools, commercial buildings and homes throughout Canada.
Before the movie theatre, the site was home to the Toronto Orthopaedic Hospital.