London Grand Theatre
Here are a few quick facts about Kingston's City Hall National Historic site.
June 15, 1842, the town of Kingston publicized a competition for architects and builders for the design for a Town Hall and Market. The probable cost of construction was set at 10,000 pounds.
The design of the government architect George Browne (31 years old) was selected from the 12 submissions received from the contest. George Browne also designed the Mowat Building, the Victoria and Grey Trust Building, the S&R Department Store, the Presbyterian Manse and Rockwood Villa
The building was completed in December 1844, at a final cost slightly in excess of 25,000 pounds. The increased cost was due to additions and changes from the competition submission.
The original design of City Hall had a hemispherical dome with no clock faces or belfry. The belfry and clock were housed in a large square end block that originally extended the market wing all the way to King Street. The market wing end block was destroyed in a fire on Jan. 10, 1865. The original clock that had been given jointly by John Counter and John A. Macdonald was moved to the main dome.
The Governor General Sir Charles Metcalf laid the City Hall corner stone June 5, 1843.
Past tenants of City Hall include the Market Vendors, the Board of Trade, the Post Office, the Customs House, the Bank of British North America, the Mechanics Institute, the Orange Lodge, the Masons, the Merchants Exchange, A&D Shaw Dry Goods, various church groups, a saloon and some residential tenants.
After his death in 1891, the body of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister and one-time Kingston alderman, lay in state in what is now Memorial Hall, an impressive chamber dedicated in 1921 to honour the city's war dead.
In 1908 the cupola on top of the dome and part of the dome burned, the cupola was rebuilt in May 1909 and the new Seth Thomas clock and a new bell was installed. The 1908 clock and bell are the current clock and bell that are present in the dome today.
In 2002 a new copper roof and clock tower reconstruction commenced along with phase-one of the masonry restoration. All four clocks were removed so that the stained glass faces could be repaired.
"Historic City Hall." City of Kingston. Corporation of the City of Kingston. www.cityofkingston.ca/explore/culture-history/history/city-hall
Kingston City Hall
Kingston City Hall
Holman Opera House
Address: 69 Richmond St. (pp.106)
McAlpine's London City and County of Middlesex Directory, 1875 [...]. McAlpine, Everett & Co., 1875. Canadian Directories Collection, Library and Archives Canada.
HOLMAN, SARAH (Dalton) (known as Sallie Holman), singer and actress; b. probably 24 June 1849 at Lynn, Mass., daughter of George W. Holman and Harriet Phillips, née Jacobs (Jackson); m. in 1879 James T. Dalton; d. 7 June 1888 in London, Ont.
Sallie Holman was the undisputed star of the Holman opera company which toured the eastern United States and Canada from the late 1850s to the early 1880s. Her parents were active in the theatre in New York throughout the 1840s and 1850s. By 1858 the four Holman children were touring as members of the Holman Juvenile Opera Troupe. Sallie, the elder daughter, was the leading lady in all of the Holman productions; an attractive girl, she won the hearts of audiences with her pleasing soprano voice and her dramatic skills. Benjamin Phillips Holman, Harriet’s son by an earlier marriage, was the comedian of the group, while Alfred took the dramatic male roles. Julia, the youngest, sang the contralto roles and Harriet Holman served as coach, accompanist, and musical director.
One of the Holmans’ earliest Canadian performances, in August 1858, was in London, Canada West, George’s home since the 1830s as well as the Holmans’ summer home for many years. In its early years the company appeared at Barnum’s Museum and the Hope Chapel Theatre in New York (1859 and 1860), at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Toronto (May 1860), and in Montreal (1861). During the 1860s, the company’s tours extended south to Nashville and west to St Louis. Following Benjamin’s untimely death in 1864, his place was taken by William Henry Crane, who became one of America’s best-loved comedians.
In 1867 George Holman took over the management of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Toronto. The Holmans performed there until 1872, while continuing to tour, under the name the Holman English Opera Troupe; the company changed names repeatedly, however, with eight variations recorded between 1858 and 1878. Their repertoire consisted primarily of English versions of French operettas in vogue during the period, such as Offenbach’s La grande-duchesse de Gérolstein and Lecocq’s Giroflé-Girofla. Other favourites included Balfe’s The Bohemian girl, Auber’s Fra Diavolo, and Donizetti’s La fille du régiment. The Holmans also performed farce as well as dramatic works, such as The streets of New York, Under the gaslight, and The coleen Bawn. The company was composed of actors, comedians, and singers, including Canadian comedian Harry Lindley, Joseph Brandisi, a French Canadian, and Blanche Bradshaw, the wife of Alfred Holman. Sallie, however, was the main attraction. One Toronto critic described her as “the bright star of the constellation”; others noted her sprightly manner, finely expressive face, and “the thorough abandon with which she entered the spirit of the role.”
In 1872 the company moved to Montreal where George took over the management of the Theatre Royal. One year later he bought the Music Hall in London, renovated it, and renamed it the Holman Opera House; the company opened there on 25 Dec. 1873, performing La grande-duchesse. Until 1880 the Holmans opened each season in London before setting out on tour. Other engagements included the opening of Gowan’s Opera House in Ottawa in February 1875 and the Canadian première of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore at the Royal Opera House in Toronto on 13 Feb. 1879. Sallie played the role of Josephine; Captain Corcoran was played by James T. Dalton, an English baritone who had joined the Holmans around 1877. Dalton and Sallie Holman were married during 1879.
Following Julia Holman’s death in the same year, the troupe’s success began to wane; Sallie’s death in June 1888 was the final blow to the company. She had fallen ill in February of that year prior to an evening performance at Glencoe, Ont., and after a brief recovery suffered a relapse. Her father died four months after her death.
An obituary which appeared in the Montreal Gazette bears witness to Sallie Holman’s successful career. She is referred to as “the soul” of her company and “one of the most amiable and gifted of Canadian artists.” William Henry Crane considered her to be an exceptional performer yet one born perhaps too early to receive the recognition which she deserved.
MTL, Theatre Dept., Vertical file, Royal Lyceum file. Gazette (Montreal), 12 June 1888. Globe, 8 Oct. 1867, 14 Feb. 1879. London Advertiser (London, Ont.), 23 Dec. 1873, 24 Sept. 1877, 7 June 1888, 24 Feb. 1936. London Free Press (London, Ont.), 20 Aug. 1858, 27 Dec. 1873, 18 Feb. 1888. G. C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York stage(15v., New York, 1927–49). Types of Canadian women and of women who are or have been connected with Canada, ed. H. J. Morgan (1v. publ., Toronto, 1903), I: 161. W. H. Crane, Footprints and echoes (New York, 1927). Franklin Graham, Histrionic Montreal; annals of the Montreal stage with biographical and critical notices of the plays and players of a century (2nd ed., Montreal, 1902; repr. New York and London, 1969). Carl Morey, “Canada’s first opera ensemble,” Opera Canada (Toronto), 11 (1970), no. 3: 15, 75.
Murray D. Edwards and Frances R. Hines, “HOLMAN, SARAH,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 22, 2017, www.biographi.ca/en/bio/holman_sarah_11E.html.
Morey, Carl. "Holman English Opera Troupe." The Canadian Encyclopedia. 16 Dec. 2013.
Address: 231 Dundas Street
Also Known As: London Mechanics Institute; Bennett's Theatre; Scott's of London
DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE
The London Mechanics Institute Building is located at 229 to 231 Dundas Street, on the south side of Dundas Street, east of Clarence Street, in the downtown area, of the City of London. The four-storey white-brick library building was constructed in 1876.
The property was designated, by the City of London, in 1988, for its historical or architectural value or interest, under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law L.S.P. – 2982-79). The London Mechanics Institute Building is also protected by a municipal heritage easement agreement.
The scale and opulence of the London Mechanics Institute Building makes it an impressive landmark within the City's downtown area.
The Mechanics Institute originated as an idealistic enterprise in Great Britain in the late 18th century and found fertile ground in Upper Canada. Its goal was the technical and cultural enrichment of the working man. The London Mechanics Institute Building is associated with its namesake organization, the London Mechanics Institute. The London Mechanics Institute was originally established in 1841. The London Mechanics Institute Building, at 229-231 Dundas Street, was the third and final building it operated from. It was constructed in 1876 under a design prepared by Thomas Tracy of the London architecture firm of Robinson, Tracy and Fairbairne. Despite this worthwhile goal, the objectives of the London Mechanics Institute were not realized and it eventually faded out of existence and its educational functions were taken on by the public library system.
The London Mechanics Institute Building is a prominent example of the Second Empire architectural style as applied to commercial design. Characteristic of Second Empire architecture, the Institute exhibits a mansard roof atop the central tower and the fourth-storey, which also features ornately decorated dormer windows. Other decorative elements which typify this style include the brackets below the cornices on the façade, the pilasters which are terminated by capitals that frame the upper-stories and the extended window sills.
Source: City of London, By-law L.S.P. – 2982-79.
"London Mechanics Institute Building". Canada's Historic Places. Parks Canada. www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=11682&pid=0
Front View - 229 Dundas St
Braustein, Martina. "Image 1/3 - London Mechanics Institute Building." Canada's Historic Places. www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/image-image.aspx?id=11682#i1
"Cigarettes for the Troops" shows at the Majestic Theatre, London, Ontario
This is a scene from the production "Cigarettes for the Troops" which was being performed at the Majestic Theatre. Stanley Meredith and Kit Smart are the actors on stage.
There is a handwritten inscription on the back of the photograph.
""Cigarettes for the Troops" shows at the Majestic Theatre, London, Ontario". Ivey Family London Room Digital Collections. London Public Library. images.ourontario.ca/london/2303563/data
Palace Theatre London
Address: 710 Dundas Street
The property where the theatre now sits was the original location of the “Jubilee Home for the Incurables”. This “infirmary” was operated by the Women’s Christian Association from 1896 until the 1920’s, when it was relocated to Grand Avenue and renamed Parkwood Hospital. When the new orchestra pit at the Palace was excavated, the foundation walls and basement floor of the original Jubilee Home for the Incurables were discovered, just a few feet below the auditorium floor.
The Palace Theatre originally opened as a silent movie theatre in March of 1929, just prior to the stock market crash in October of the same year. It was the last theatre built in London until well into the 1940's. The first movie to grace the screen when the theatre opened in 1929 was the silent film Synthetic Sin, featuring Colleen Moore as “a good little bad girl who wanted to sin and suffer”. The shift to Talking pictures and the advent of the great depression, saw the owners of the property, Hyatt Brothers Construction, leasing the building to Famous Players and ultimately to 20th Century Theatre.
The Palace operated as a neighbourhood movie theatre throughout the 1930's and 40’s showing popular movies such as The Gay Divorcee with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Return of the Cisco Kid with Jimmy Durante, A Foreign Affair with Marlene Dietrich and Something for the Boys starring Carmen Miranda. It was the habit of the time to hold small talent shows on Saturday afternoons during the intermission between movies. Many people over the past 20 years have told us they tread the boards at the Palace as a child, doing their stand up routine, and winning a small prize.
In 1948 the building was sold to Famous Players and underwent considerable renovation before it reopened in 1951 as the Park Theatre. This renovation saw the removal of much of the theatre's original ornamentation, including the original auditorium chandeliers, and its “modernization”, to a 1950’s style cinema. A large wall-to-wall cinema-scope curved screen was installed over the north end of the auditorium, sealing off the access to the Palace stage for what was to be eventually almost 35 years. The newly renovated and fully air conditioned Park Theatre had audiences lining around the block, to enjoy such classics as Ben Hur, My Fair Lady and The Ten Commandments. The Park was considered a first run theatre, and was the venue of choice for such blockbusters as the Star Wars: A New Hope and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The trend toward multi-plex theatres in the late 1970’s and 1980’s led to a decline in attendance at the Park, and finally the old theatre closed its doors for the last time in September of 1989.
The renovations LCP undertook in the period between purchasing the building in November of 1990 and opening night on July 17, 1991 were prodigious.
"History of the Palace - The Palace Theatre." The Palace Theatre. 2016. www.palacetheatre.ca/history-of-the-palace/
The Palace Theatre - Home of the London Community Players
"History of the Palace - The Palace Theatre." The Palace Theatre. 2016. www.palacetheatre.ca/history-of-the-palace/