Heritage details from our heritage architects
ERA Architects, whose expertise lies in heritage projects, has been tasked with preserving the Art Deco and Art Moderne façade, including the distinct racing stripes, curved parapet, detailed terrazzo and historic ticket booth.
“ERA was thrilled to be brought onto the team as heritage consultants to advise on the historic Paradise Theatre. The reinstatement of the building’s unique sign and wraparound marquee—both such hallmark attributes to the building—brings an exciting, historic flair to Bloor Street West. We look forward to seeing the Paradise Theatre become a thriving space in the neighbourhood thanks to its adaptive re-use.” - Graeme Stewart, Principal at ERA Architects
The rejuvenated façade is marked with the unmistakable Paradise marquee and sign, a replica of the building’s 1937 signage made by Pride Signs. ERA did extensive cross-venue research to determine the blue and teal colouration, as only black-and-white photographs exist of the original sign. The sign is constructed primarily of aluminum, featuring snow white neon and utopia frost pear-shaped bulbs, and only weighs 800 lbs.
ERA identifies the heritage attributes of Paradise Theatre as:
- The scale, form and massing
- The rectangular-shaped two-storey plan with the projecting round-cornered wing along Westmoreland Avenue
- The materials, with buff brick cladding (with glazed brickwork on the south façade and east wing) and brick and cast stone detailing
- The flat roofs with stone coping, the brick chimney where it extends above the second storey at the east end and, on the south facade, stylized cast stone pilaster strips that wrap over the central parapet
- On the south façade (where the lower floor has been refaced), the two entrances on either side of the former box office, the box office window on the east (right) side of the recess, and the coloured and patterned terrazzo on the floor outside the entries
- Above the south entrances, the projecting marquee with rounded corners and a stepped parapet
- The south façade, where the upper storey is organized into three sections with a projecting centre bay with stone quoins and five flat-headed window openings with stone detailing
- The placement of the building on a corner lot facing Bloor Street West and Westmoreland Avenue
Details from ERA’s Heritage Impact Assessment:
The Paradise Theatre displays features inspired by Art Deco styling. Named for the “Exposition de arts décoratifs” held in Paris in 1925 that showcased all aspects of contemporary design, the style was “characterized by a lavish and exotic application of materials with angular outlines” and the use of geometric, naturalistic and abstract motifs inspired by classical architecture, recently revealed Egyptian artifacts, and of-the-moment Cubist paintings. In the 1930s, "the rage for Art Deco continued, but on a more pragmatic and popular level" when the flamboyant elements of the style were deemed particularly well suited to movie theatres.
A modest version of the style, the Art Deco features of the Paradise Theatre are found on the principal (south) façade on Bloor Street West and the east elevation facing Westmoreland Avenue. Rising two stories, the long rectangular plan is organized in three sections that are visible on Westmoreland where the wall gradually steps down from the lobby to the auditorium and the back stage areas. While buff brick clads most of the structure, the brickwork is glazed on the upper portion of the south façade and the east storefronts along Westmoreland. Brick and cast stone is applied for the detailing.
The principal façade, while altered, retains the original organization in the first floor where two pairs of double doors with stainless steel and glass are placed between the flat-headed openings that mark the outer bays. The original ticket office was removed from its original location in the centre of the wall, but a box office window remains in the recess adjoining the entries on the east. The pavement outside the doors displays coloured patterned tile work. The lower floor of the south façade has been reclad, covering the bands of vitrolite visible in the archival photographs. The original projecting marquee with rounded corners and a stepped parapet survives while, in the upper wall, the two-sided vertical sign naming the “Paradise” is not original but represents the evolution of the building during the later 20th century. The second storey is organized in three parts, where the centre bay projects slightly. Single flat-headed window openings are found in the outer bays, while a trio of openings is placed in the centre. The bands of stone beneath the outer openings and the brick quoins in the centre provide geometric detailing that is typical of the Art Deco, as are the brick and stone band courses delineating the line of the flat roof. On the south wall, the trio of stylized cast stone pilaster strips rises above the central window openings and wraps over the parapet to offer an Art Deco flourish.
The east wing of the theatre complex, designed as a storefront, displays the rounded corner synonymous with the Art Moderne style, which is contemporaneous to the Art Deco but without its applied decoration. The wing is similarly clad with glazed brick and features brick banding above the door and window openings.