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Notice of Intention to Designate 1014 King Street West, Hamilton (Westdale Theatre)

The City of Hamilton intents to designate 1014 King Street West, Hamilton, under Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act, as being a property of cultural heritage value.

Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest

Built in 1935 the Westdale Theatre located at 1014 King Street West, Hamilton, was designed in the Art-Deco style and continues to display many original and unique features on the exterior and interior of the building. The Westdale Theatre was the first theatre built for sound in Hamilton and included innovative modern technology at the time of construction. The Theatre has entertained and served as a gathering place for the local community for over 80 years.

The Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest, Description of Heritage Attributes and supporting Cultural Heritage Assessment (PDF, 10 MB) may be viewed in person during regular business hours at:

Office of the City Clerk
71 Main Street West,
1st Floor, Hamilton, Ontario

Written Notice of Objection

Any person may, within 30 days after the date of the publication of the Notice, serve written notice of their objections to the proposed designation, together with a statement for the objection and relevant facts.

Dated at Hamilton, this 26 day of August, 2017.

R. Caterini
City Clerk
Hamilton, Ontario

Contact:
Chelsey Tyers
Cultural Heritage Planner
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext. 1202
Email: [email protected]

Introduction and Description of Property

The Westdale Theatre, located at 1014 King Street West, is situated on the north side of the street, between Paisley Avenue North and Marion Avenue North, in the City of Hamilton. The two-storey movie theatre was designed in the Art Deco-style and was constructed circa 1935.

Physical/Design Value

The Westdale Theatre possesses design value as a representative example of the Art Deco style of architecture. The Westdale Theatre is the only theatre constructed in Hamilton influenced by this design movement and purpose-built for sound. The theatre can be considered a technical achievement of its time as its design was guided by decisions that would perfect the sound and visual experience of its patrons. The theatre exhibits Art Deco features on the exterior façade with its stone carvings, pressed metal panels with triangular motif above the entryway doors and original marquee that is likely still located behind the contemporary layer. Interior Art Deco features include wall and ceiling mouldings, the ziggurat-style window and door openings throughout the theatre, as well as the engaged pillars. Other significant attributes include but are not limited to the red brick piers woven into the concrete block cladding, window and door openings, and the layout of the auditorium, which includes the placement of seats and two downward sloping aisles, the two door openings on either side of the stage and the metal railings.

Historical/Associative Value

The Westdale Theatre is associated with the development of film technology and the design of movie theatres. Westdale Theatre was the first theatre built locally for sound and included the modern technology of its time. Modern comforts and technology featured when the theatre opened in 1935 included “Dunlopillo” seats, the latest air conditioning, R.C.A. Victor Photophones High Fidelity sound reproduction, and a scientifically designed non-reflecting screen. The theatre is believed to have been designed by prominent Hamilton architect William James Walsh in 1932 and the building plans were updated in 1935 by architect W. Bruce Riddell. Both architects went on to design movie theatres in Hamilton and Oshawa, respectively.

The property is also associated with the development of Westdale Village as a planned suburban community. The neighbourhood’s original layout was proposed only two decades before the theatre was built circa 1935 and its name was coined in 1923. The Westdale Theatre is located in the core of the community’s self-sustaining commercial strip on King Street West. The façade of Westdale Theatre has evolved over time with the addition of the green “Westdale” sign between 1959 and 1976 in its heyday which has since become a well-known sign along the commercial strip of King Street West.

Contextual Value

The Westdale Theatre is prominently located on King Street West, a commercial main street in the Westdale neighbourhood of Hamilton, and is considered a local landmark due to its distinctive Art Deco-influenced design. The theatre is linked historically and physically to its surroundings as it has been an anchor in the Westdale Village community for generations, representing a central local gathering place. The theatre helps to maintain and support the social character of this predominantly walkable commercial area. It is valued by the broader film community as well due to its status as the only single-screen theatre operating in Hamilton and its screening of both mainstream and independent films.

The heritage attributes that contribute to the cultural heritage value or interest of 1014 King Street West, Hamilton – Westdale Theatre include: 

Exterior attributes

  • Two-storey, L-shaped plan, concrete block building;
  • Concrete foundation;
  • Terrazzo floor in the recessed entryway;
  • Stone carvings and red brick on the façade;
  • Pressed metal panels with triangle motif above entryway doors;
  • Original window and door openings;
  • Original wood windows;
  • Red brick piers woven into the concrete block cladding;
  • Course of red brick headers below eaves;
  • Loudspeaker cabinet on west elevation; and,
  • Green neon “WESTDALE” sign.

Interior Attributes

Lobby:

  • Art Deco features in the lobby including:
    • Black and white terrazzo floor and black tiling along the base of the wall;
    • Coffered ceiling;
    • Decorative metal grate in ceiling;
    • Engaged plastered pillars with ziggurat-style capitals;
    • Crown moulding; and,
    • Entrance opening to the foyer with ziggurat-style plastered design.

Second floor and staircase:

  • Location of staircase.
  • Art Deco-inspired metal stair railing leading to second floor and basement.
  • Wood baseboards.
  • Ladies room with retiring room:
    • Floor and wall tiling;
    • Two four-pane wood windows in ladies’ room;
    • Set of three six-pane wood casement windows in retiring room; and,
    • Wood baseboards.
  • Crying room:
    • Large viewing window looking into auditorium with wood surround;
    • Decorative wood detailing on the wall; and,
    • Wood baseboards.

Foyer:

  • Metal grates in foyer / auditorium partition wall;
  • Partition wall between the foyer and auditorium, with two ziggurat-style window openings and two ziggurat-style door openings;
  • Engaged plastered pillars and ceiling coffers;
  • Textured plaster walls; and,
  • Wood baseboards.

Auditorium:

  • Layout: placement of seating and two aisles that slope down toward the centrally placed stage.
  • Centrally placed stage with access to the speaker cabinet at the rear of the stage;
  • Ramps and metal railings on both sides of the stage.
  • Ziggurat motif-topped door opening on each side of the stage.
  • Metal railing in front of the stage.
  • Art Deco features of the auditorium, including:
    • Wood mouldings along both side walls;
    • Ziggurat-style door openings, window openings and wall recesses on auditorium side of the partition wall between the auditorium and foyer;
    • Crying room window opening on second storey;
    • Engaged fluted pillars on either side of the stage with ziggurat motif capitals;
    • Stage opening mouldings including the decorative and centrally placed “WT” moulding;
    • Crown moulding around perimeter of auditorium; and,
    • Large oval-shaped recesses in ceiling.
  • Textured plaster walls.
  • Wood baseboards.

Other Interior:

  • Floor and wall tiling and baseboards in the basement men’s washroom.