|Allenby Theatre lobby, 1936. Image courtesy Silent Toronto, which has more on the feature presentation depicted here.|
|Toronto Star, May 9, 1983. Click on image for larger version.|
|Toronto Star, June 17, 1936.|
When a plan to run five months of top-quality Japanese films flopped, programming was handed over to three young film buffs, Robert Buchanan, Neil McCarthy, and Gary Topp. Billed as “The Original 99 Cent Roxy,” the theatre offered art films and classic double-bills that brought in older customers during the week, and rock-music films greeted with cheers by younger audiences on weekends. Live novelty acts were mixed in, such as a pianist who attempted to play for 110 hours straight.
|Toronto Star, October 20. 1973. Click on image for larger version.|
|Toronto Star, April 6, 1993. Click on image for larger version.|
Apart from brief periods as an Indian theatre and banquet hall decorated with air-brushed homages to Indiana Jones and Star Wars, the building remained vacant until it was purchased by Imperial Oil in 2006. As the site was on the City’s heritage inventory, the gas giant contacted historical property conversion specialists E.R.A. Architects. Rather than just preserve the façade, elements like the marquee and ticket booth from the Allenby days were recreated. Restorations were authentic, employing bricks from the original supplier in Pittsburgh and recreating the style of window that would have been used during the 1930s. The neighbourhood welcomed the project as an opportunity to spark a community revival, hoping that a touch of time-warp would redeem its reputation as a rough stretch of the Danforth.
Additional material from the October 14, 2010 edition of the Globe and Mail, and the June 17, 1936, October 20, 1973, January 22, 1977, May 9, 1983, April 5, 1993, April 27, 1994, and October 1, 2005 editions of the Toronto Star.