Sunday, October 17, 2010

Feature attraction! gas, milk and a coffee

Allenby (later Roxy) cinema as Hollywood dinner theatre in the 1980s.
Toronto's Allenby cinema – located at 1215 Danforth Ave., just east of Greenwood Ave., later rebranded the Roxy – was designed by noted theatre architects Kaplan and Sprachman in 1936. (After its cinema days were over, it was known to a generation of mostly youthful Torontonians as the home of midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and as then as the Hollywood Dinner Theatre before lying closed and derelict for more than a decade. 

About a year ago, things began happening when Imperial Oil (which owned the corner lot, formerly the site of a gas station), began transforming the tired but still intact yellow brick building with decorative stone details into a state-of-the-art On the Run convenience store.
Original canopy has been faithfully
rebuilt, including neon lettering.

With the building now essentially finished, Torontonians who once eagerly lined-up to watch the latest movie now line up in droves to get their daily fix of Tim Hortons coffee!

At end of August, the hoarding was still up.
The contemporary On the Run entrance
is to the far right of the photo, facing west.
 Kudos to Imperial Oil for their wisdom to preserve and restore so much of the building to create a unique 'c-store' experience, and to ERA Architects and Teksign for pulling it off!

Read the story about the building's transformation in articles by Dave Leblanc (The Globe and Mail) and Christopher Hume (The Toronto Star)

Footnote: Other Deco-era cinemas in Toronto designed by Kaplan and Sprachman are the former Eglinton cinema (400 Eglinton Avenue West, 1934-36); the former Bayview (1605 Bayview Avenue, 1936), the former State (1610 Bloor Street West, 1937), the Metro (679 Bloor Street West, 1938) and the Paradise (1008 Bloor Street West, 1939). Two other Deco cinemas (the Pylon – 608-610 College Street, 1939, now the Royal; and the Kingsway – 3030 Bloor Street West, 1939-40) were designed by different architects. Source: Art Deco Architecture in Toronto by Tim Morawetz, 2009.

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