ERA Architects

The Allenby, to the Roxy, to the Allenby

With the historic marquee now back in place, the Allenby has been catching a good bit of attention recently.

From Christopher Hume’s piece Tim does its bit on the Danforth, in the Toronto Star:

Cleaned up and nicely restored, the Allenby looks better than it has in years. The 1930s art deco movie house is no masterpiece, but it has character and exuberance. As is so often the case with these old cinemas, the building is all façade. With its streamlined symmetry and classic marquée cantilevered over the entrance, it is a relic from another age. Though only 75 years old, the Allenby comes from a time when movies weren’t such an industrial pursuit. It also speaks of a moment when architecture was allowed to be entertaining.

The modernists would soon do away with that, another reason why the former Roxy remains one of a tiny handful of architectural highlights on the Danforth. Most of the street is lined with two- and three-storey boxes of the sort that can be found throughout Toronto.

ERA has been working on the restoration and adaptive re-use of the Allenby (aka Roxy) Cinema since 2006.  The façade was entirely restored and greatly re-built, as the cinema had originally been hastily built at the tail end of the great depression.  The entire marquee sign was replaced, as well as the vitrolite glass at the ground floor window storefronts.  The terrazzo floors are being refurbished at the exterior lobby, and the interior lobby has been retained and is being re-used as the new Tim Horton’s component of Esso’s Gas station to the west of the property. The ticket booth is also being reinstated.

Though Hume’s article mentions that this is just a façade – in reality the first bay of structure was retained, proving to be both a modern engineering feat and a very effective and unique method for preserving  an old cinema that features an exterior lobby and ticket booth.

Katie Daubs also had a story in the Star; Wanted on ‘other’ Danforth: More foot-powered traffic, which focuses on the Allenby as a key component in the neighbourhood’s burgeoning rejuvenation.