University Theatre – Toronto’s Magnificent Theatre Along Mink Mile

1949 - University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side. On the marquee, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” starring Sylvia Sidney, Fred MacMurray and Henry Fonda and “Special Agent,” starring William Eythe and George Reeves, were playing
1949 – University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 135159)

The University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W (west of Bay St on the north side) in the Bloor-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. The beautiful theatre had one of the largest screens in the city, a balcony and over 1,300 plush seats.

2021 - The facade of the former University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side
2021 – The facade of the former University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side

Through the Years

The Mink Mile theatre screened some of the biggest blockbusters for nearly four decades. The movie palace received heritage status in 1986 but closed that same 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 block of limestone 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 of the 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.

University Theatre Photos

2021 - The facade of the former University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side
2021 – The facade of the former University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side
1949 - University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W. On the marquee, “Joan of Arc,” starring Ingrid Bergman, José Ferrer and Selena Royle, was playing
1949 – University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W. On the marquee, “Joan of Arc,” starring Ingrid Bergman, José Ferrer and Selena Royle, was playing (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1960 – Looking northwest towards the University Theatre, once located at 100 Bloor St W. On the marquee, “Ben-Hur,” starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd, was playing. Notice the Park Plaza Hotel and Holt Renfrew in the distance
1960 – Looking northwest towards the University Theatre, once located at 100 Bloor St W. On the marquee, “Ben-Hur,” starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins and Stephen Boyd, was playing. Notice the Park Plaza Hotel and Holt Renfrew in the distance (City of Toronto Archives, Series 648, File 70, ID 11)
2022 - Looking northwest on Bloor St W towards shops and facade of the former University Theatre in the Yorkville neighbourhood
2022 – Looking northwest on Bloor St W towards shops and facade of the former University Theatre in the Yorkville neighbourhood
1949 - On the University Theatre marquee, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” starring Sylvia Sidney, Fred MacMurray and Henry Fonda and “Special Agent,” starring William Eythe and George Reeves, were playing
1949 – On the University Theatre marquee, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” starring Sylvia Sidney, Fred MacMurray and Henry Fonda and “Special Agent,” starring William Eythe and George Reeves, were playing (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 135159)
1949 - University Theatre entrance once located at 100 Bloor St W
1949 – University Theatre entrance once located at 100 Bloor St W (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1343, File 128, Item 2)
1949 - University Theatre lobby once located at 100 Bloor St W
1949 – University Theatre lobby once located at 100 Bloor St W (Archives of Ontario I0012610)
1949 - The auditorium and screen at the University Theatre
1949 – The auditorium and screen at the University Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1949 - University Theatre concession stand
1949 – University Theatre concession stand (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1949 - University Theatre hallway and entrance to the auditorium
1949 – University Theatre hallway and entrance to the auditorium (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1949 - The two-storey, black granite framed window between the split marquee at the University Theatre
1949 – The two-storey, black granite framed window between the split marquee at the University Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1949 - The entrance, lobby and staircase to the balcony of the University Theatre
1949 – The entrance, lobby and staircase to the balcony of the University Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1949 - Seating area in the University Theatre
1949 – Seating area in the University Theatre (Archives of Ontario I0012606)
1949 - The auditorium and balcony at the University Theatre
1949 – The auditorium and balcony at the University Theatre (Archives of Ontario I0012607)
2022 - The heritage designated facade of the former University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St
2022 – The heritage designated facade of the former University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St
1949 - On the University Theatre marquee, “Jolson Sings Again,” starring Larry Parks, Barbara Hale and William Demarest, was playing
1949 – On the University Theatre marquee, “Jolson Sings Again,” starring Larry Parks, Barbara Hale and William Demarest, was playing (City of Toronto Archives, Eric Hounsom Architect Fonds, Fonds 1248, Series 1343, File 128)
1969 – Looking southwest towards Bloor St W and Bay St. Notice green Firebird and the University Theatre sign on the right
1969 – Looking southwest towards Bloor St W and Bay St. Notice green Firebird and the University Theatre sign on the right (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 2, Item ID 40)
1983 - Looking northeast towards the University Theatre once located at 100 Bloor St W. On the marquee, “Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi,” starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, was playing
1983 – Looking northeast towards the University Theatre once located at 100 Bloor St W. On the marquee, “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, was playing (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, ID 101)
2021 - Looking northeast towards the facade of the former University Theatre was once located on Bloor St W, west of Bay St
2021 – Looking northeast towards the facade of the former University Theatre was once located on Bloor St W, west of Bay St
1983 - Looking northwest from Bloor St W and St Thomas St towards shops and the University Theatre
1983 – Looking northwest from Bloor St W and St Thomas St towards shops and the University Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, ID 100)
1981 - On the University Theatre marquee, “The Lion of the Desert,” starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed and Rod Steiger, was playing
1981 – On the University Theatre marquee, “The Lion of the Desert,” starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed and Rod Steiger, was playing (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 515, Item 10)
2021 - The facade of the former University Theatre located at 100 Bloor St W. Notice the Festival Walkway on the left that leads to Critchley Ln and Village of Yorkville Park
2021 – The facade of the former University Theatre located at 100 Bloor St W. Notice the Festival Walkway on the left that leads to Critchley Ln and Village of Yorkville Park
2022 – The Festival Walkway, on the west side of the former University Theatre, connects Bloor St W with Critchley Ln and Village of Yorkville Park
2022 – The Festival Walkway, on the west side of the former University Theatre, connects Bloor St W with Critchley Ln and Village of Yorkville Park
2022 – The Festival Walkway plaque
2022 – The Festival Walkway plaque (The Festival Walkway By Reinhard Reitzenstein)
Between 1986 and 1989 - University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side. The theatre closed in 1986
Between 1986 and 1989 – University Theatre was once located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St on the north side. The theatre closed in 1986 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 515, Item 16)
2016 – Looking north towards Pottery Barn, which once occupied the former theatre building located at 100 Bloor St W (Google Maps)
2016 – Looking north towards Pottery Barn, which once occupied the former theatre building located at 100 Bloor St W (Google Maps)
2021 - Looking northeast towards the facade of the former University Theatre located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St
2021 – Looking northeast towards the facade of the former University Theatre located at 100 Bloor St W, west of Bay St
Between 1946 - Architect Eric W Hounsom rendering of the University Theatre
Between 1946 – Architect Eric W Hounsom rendering of the University Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1343, File 141, Item 1)
1949 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the University Theatre
1949 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the University Theatre (Toronto Public Library)
1924 - Toronto Orthopaedic Hospital, the future site of University Theatre
1924 – Toronto Orthopaedic Hospital, the future site of University Theatre (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 727)
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