Monday, June 19, 2017

The Theaters of Ste. Catherine Street

In the early 20th century, Ste-Catherine St. was abuzz with cinemas, concert halls and theatres. Today, most of them have vanished, and many of the original buildings have been razed and replaced with not so much as a plaque to mark this vanished era. From west to east, here are some of the theatres that once lined the street.

Seville Theatre

The theater, designed by Cajetan L. Dufort (full name Louis-Joseph Cajetan Dufort, also the architect of the Corona Theater), was built in 1929 - just five years after the nearby Montreal Forum - in a then -bustling part of downtown Montreal. Its interior was designed by Emmanuel Briffa.

The Seville was a single-screen, 1148 seat theater and one of only 15 atmospheric theaters ever built in Canada. Its exterior had a Spanish theme (hence the name Seville) with its ceiling painted to resemble a night sky with sparkling stars. There was an additional mechanism in place that could be turned on to give the appearance of clouds moving across the sky. The theater was built with shops in the front, including an ice cream parlor on the east side and a drugstore on the west.

Opened in 1929 at Ste-Catherine and Chomedey Sts. One of the United Amusement chain’s neighbourhood double-bill movie houses.

Interior decorated by Emmanuel Briffa. Became a concert hall in the 1940s, with performers including Tony Bennett, Nat “King” Cole and Harry Belafonte.

Operated as a repertory theatre for a decade before its developer-owner shut it down in 1984. It was left to fall into ruin. Its carcass was razed to make way for condos in 2010.

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