Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Rialto Theatre


The building was built in 1923 according to the plans of architect Raoul Gariépy. Gariépy also designed the Verdun Theater in 1912-1915, the Théâtre de la Lune Rousse in 1913 and the Maisonneuve Theater in 1921.
The Rialto Theatre was designed in the Beaux-Arts style and was inspired by the Paris Opéra. The theatre’s richly decorated neo-Baroque interior was designed by the famous theatre designer Emmanuel Briffa. Briffa created the decoration of most of the movie theaters that were built in Montreal before 1940, such as the Empress Theater (1927), the Outremont Theater (1928), the cinema Le Château (1831), and the York.


Initially, the building included a projection room, a dance hall, shops on the ground floor, and a garden on the roof. There was also a space for bowling and billard in the basement. The projection room served not only for movies, but also for theatrical plays and music shows, as it was also the case in the other theaters in Montreal at that time.

The Rialto was managed by United Amusement Corporation Limited. This company was founded in 1908 by George Nicholas Ganetakos, an immigrant of Greek origin. His company grew rapidly, and managed several theaters, such as the Regent, the Papineau, the Rivoli, the Séville, the York, and of course the Rialto. At the end of the 1930s, United Amusement was acquired by Famous Players Canadian Corporation, a company from Toronto.

The Rialto Theatre was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1993. The façade and the interior of the Rialto are still very well preserved today.

©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
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