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Theatre Centre revamps former Carnegie Library

Posted by Sarah Ratchford / January 26, 2014

Theatre Centre TorontoThe Theatre Centre is another charming heritage conversion soon to open on West Queen West. The property used to be home to book lovers as the Queen and Lisgar Carnegie library (and a Canada Post office), but now 1115 Queen St. West will attract patrons of the arts and stage.

In what will soon be its upstairs theatre (the building will be home to two), construction is still far from complete. There are exposed beams that never meant to be exposed. There are plaster walls not quite built. But all of this will be covered up in time, the seats will go in, and, if the neighbourhood's character is any indication, they will fill up.

Theatre CentreThe Theatre Centre has been around since 1979, and over that period it has occupied 10 different homes only accessible to them because of poor location or structural issues. That's why it decided to embark on the fundraising venture to restore the old library. Now, the walls of its upstairs theatre are painted a sultry charcoal grey, accented with crystal chandaliers that somehow strike a balance between austere and playful. Two months before the Theatre Centre's doors are to open to the public, a party is held in honour of the new arts centre.

Alongside the theatre, the space will feature a hybrid café/wine-bar. The café will be run by I & J Ideations, meaning the creations served within is sure to be unique, at the very least. The future tenants have a table set up at the party where they conjure consumable clouds. I chose a lemon cloud and it was just to die. It will feature a green roof open to the public, too, as well as providing other public space for artists to meet.

Theatre CentreThe restoration project cost $6.2-million, which was financed by a donation from the city of $1-million, alongside an Indigogo campaign and private donors. Originally commissioned by American philanthropist and supposed "richest man in the world" Andrew Carnegie in 1909, and rebuilt in the 1960s, the space housed the Parkdale branch of Toronto Public Health up until now. But you can tell it was once a library, or a close cousin of one. The ceilings soar, the energy is quiet even amongst the madness of a Saturday night celebration. By mid-March, it will feature the theatre space, café and rooftop area, alongside gallery space and office space.

Theatre CentreAt the "informal ball" thrown to celebrate the centre's near-opening, people are looking glittery and drunk and happy. Largely made up of donors, it's clear the group is proud of the project. They munch snacks from Parts & Labour, blowfish, Sublime Catering and Via Allegro, amongst others. The fancy creatures enjoyed wine got generally turnt in the classiest of ways, until the venerable RoFo made an appearance.

Theatre Centre TorontoThe space promises to be both inviting and, dare I say, even a little dazzling when it's finished. But the part I respect most is that it actually seems committed to upholding the artistic integrity and tradition of community involvement and spirit in Parkdale. Stay tuned for good things come March.

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Photos by Andrew Williamson



Holy Thundering Jesus / January 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm
RoFo should really invest in some under shirts.
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from Holy Thundering Jesus / January 26, 2014 at 02:28 pm
RoFo should stop being the mayor of Toronto.
Chris / January 26, 2014 at 02:35 pm
I live in the area and like this article. Its a good post except for the last photo. Why trump the article with a Fords photo? Bring on the Ford Nation comments that will ignore the article.
Gabe / January 26, 2014 at 03:44 pm
Was Lard Ass out on the town again or is this the same photo that came out a few weeks ago?
Marilyn / January 26, 2014 at 04:14 pm
Looking forward to this theatre in our 'hood.

Why did you have to ruin the article by including the last picture of that jerk? As if he's such a patron of the arts!!

Is "turnt" even a word?
Holy Thundering Jesus replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / January 26, 2014 at 04:51 pm
Simon Tarses we all can't have everything we want, I don't like him either, but at least he should make himself presentable when at public events and not look like he just came from doing lines in a toilet stall sweaty.
J / January 26, 2014 at 07:10 pm
The theatre looks amazing. Glad to see Toronto ever evolving. As for as the RoFo ruckus - the best way we can get rid of him - is to stop talking about him entirely.
Francine / January 26, 2014 at 08:01 pm
Bad pics. So much better in person.
Linden / January 26, 2014 at 09:13 pm
this is a great news, I am looking forward to attend a performace there
iSkyscraper / January 27, 2014 at 08:59 am
Outstanding renovation. And, seriously -- Andrew Carnegie -- best rich guy ever. What a legacy, across North America and beyond.

Rich Capitalist / January 27, 2014 at 09:18 am
Yeah, Carnegie was the best rich guy ever all right, slashing worker wages when profits were down, forcing workers to buy from the company store else get fired, excessively long work days with no benefits in steel mills, smashing workers' rights and predatory business practices. And above all, he was CHEAP. He only gave his money away because he didn't believe in leaving it to his children. Truly a model of unprincipled capitalism.
Tania / January 27, 2014 at 01:43 pm
This further proves Rob Ford is a man of the people he has no problem mixing and mingling with rich and fashionable here and can also brush elbows at places like Steak Queen.

I love you Robbe I wish that was me in your arms getting photographed. FORD MORE YEARS!
andy416 / January 27, 2014 at 02:58 pm
As someone who is not a friend of the arts and cultural programs, Rob Ford has the nerve to show his face at this event. Then again, anywhere that serves booze and has pretty women...


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