Thursday, 7 November 2013

News: Chapters Closing Historic Runnymede Theatre Location

Shoppers Drug Mart reported to be new tenant at iconic Bloor West Village theatre.

Fifteen years ago when Chapters announced it was moving into the historic Runnymede Theatre in Bloor West Village, residents were in an uproar. Locals feared the retailer known for its suburban big box bookstores would desecrate the beloved local landmark. Fortunately those worries were ill-founded when Chapters sympathetically installed their store into the theatre.

The view from the balcony level
Now Chapters Indigo has confirmed that they will be closing their Runnymede location once their lease expires in the new year. The theatre's owner is reportedly increasing the rent and Shoppers Drug Mart is confirmed to be relocating their neighbourhood store to the theatre.

The stage now houses books and magazine
The Runnymede Theatre was built in 1927 as an "atmospheric" vaudeville theatre with a ceiling featuring a faux night sky complete with stars. It was designed by Alfred Chapman, a Toronto architect who also worked on the Royal Ontario Museum. Click here for an article about the theatre by Toronto Heritage.

Original theatre seats are reused through the store

When Chapters moved into the space they restored the interior to its 1920s heyday. The balcony was turned into a playful children's book area; the stage became accessible and now houses magazine and books; and original theatre seats were repurposed throughout the store to provide seating to browsers.

One hopes that when Shoppers Drug Mart moves in they will be as sympathetic and diligent a caretaker of the building's heritage as Chapters has been. The Toronto Star has quoted Shoppers Drug Mart as saying "We will be retaining all of the existing historical features, interior and exterior, including the stage and interior walls."