City Looks to Secure Heritage Status for El Mocambo
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City Looks to Secure Heritage Status for El Mocambo

Provincial heritage designation would protect the club and its iconic neon sign.

El Mocambo sign, March 23, 2010  Photo by Rick McGrath from the Torontoist Flick Pool

El Mocambo sign, March 23, 2010. Photo by Rick McGrath from the Torontoist Flick Pool.

Toronto sure loves its vintage neon signs.

The City is trying to secure provincial heritage status for the El Mocambo—a Spadina Avenue landmark that’s hosted countless big-name acts over its 68-year history—and the great glowing palm tree that looms over the sidewalk in front of it.

In November it seemed as though the legendary club would close its doors forever (a prospect the El Mo has faced many times before), but it was instead rescued by investor and Dragons’ Den star Michael Wekerle.

During the period of uncertainty that preceded Wekerle’s purchase, then-councillor Ceta Ramkhalawansingh pushed for the City to “initiate steps as soon as possible to protect the cultural heritage values of this property.”

The Toronto and East York Community Council requested last week that the site be evaluated for protection under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) is backing the move to protect the El Mo, which, he told Inside Toronto, “we all know to be a piece of heritage.”

Cressy wants to make sure that the club’s neon sign will be considered a part of the building for the purposes of heritage designation—something that did not happen in the case of the Sam the Record Man sign.