The history, design, and development of Toronto’s building projects, brought to you by UrbanToronto.
Top: the Humber Cinema last week; photo by Marcus Mitanis/UrbanToronto. Bottom: the cinema as it appeared in 1949.
After almost a decade of sitting idle, and briefly under threat by a controversial condominium development, the Humber Cinema at Jane and Bloor has recently reopened for business.
Cineplex Odeon closed the establishment in 2003, effectively marking the end of twin-screen theatres in Bloor West Village. (Four years prior, Famous Players had abandoned its theatre at Bloor and Runnymede. It’s now a Chapters bookstore with much of the interior restored and thankfully intact.) For a long time, the only choice for neighbourhood moviegoers hoping to catch new films was to drive to the 18-screen multiplex Queensway Theatres.
Now, residents have an encouraging alternative: the 1940s-era Humber Cinema officially re-opened a few weeks ago, restored by businessman (and trained architect) Rui Pereira. For now, only the 300-seat main floor screen is operational; the 500-seat auditorium downstairs is under restoration and should be ready by the end of August. The plan is to eventually also open two smaller 60-seat theatres in addition to the larger screens.
The ongoing refurbishment of the building is long overdue; Cineplex Odeon had gutted the space entirely of the seats and screens and the structure was home to a family of raccoons for months. Not only that, but the unique brass and copper rails were stolen by vandals, the lobby was water-damaged, and the furnace was broken. Several years and $350,000 later, the raft of renovations has recaptured the cinema’s atmosphere, bringing back the stylish movie-going days of the 1950s.
Additional details about the Humber Cinema and a complete set of photographs are at UrbanToronto.