Eglinton Theatre and Kaplan & Sprachman Architects recognized for National Historic Significance in Canada

Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives
Photo courtesy of the City of Toronto Archives

Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada have commemorated the national historic significance of Kaplan & Sprachman Architects as a national historic event and the Eglinton Theatre as a national historic site.

A special ceremony was held in Toronto, Ontario, with members of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, members of the Kaplan, Sprachman and Eglinton families, and Dynamic Hospitality and Entertainment Group.

Between 1929 and 1965, Harold Solomon Kaplan (1895-1973) and Abraham (Abe) Sprachman (1894-1971) designed hundreds of movie theatres across Canada. The Kaplan & Sprachman firm was one of nation’s most prolific, creating numerous noteworthy designs ranging from flagship movie palaces to small-town cinemas. Their buildings featured the Moderne style, with flowing streamlined surfaces and neon-lit marquees. By using the newest finishes and the latest engineering and film technologies, they invited thousands of Canadians into the fantastic world of the “Golden Age” of cinema.

Their design for Eglinton was a departure from theatre-inspired aesthetic, instead incorporating the newest trends of architectural thought and practice. The structure is one of the best surviving examples of the Art Deco style in Canadian theatre design. Opened in 1936, its towering sign, aerodynamic shapes, and colourful neon lights beckoned filmgoers into a sophisticated interior whose sleek curved lines and new synthetic materials suggested futuristic speed. Situated in the newly-developed suburban neighbourhood of Forest Hill, this building continued the mid-1920s trend of building luxury movie theatres in the suburbs of major Canadian cities.

“The Government of Canada is proud to recognize the people, places and events that shaped Canada,” said Marco Mendicino, Member of Parliament for Eglinton—Lawrence (Ontario). “These types of designations reflect the rich heritage of our country and offer Canadians the opportunity to learn more about their history.”