Located on Bloor Street West at Runnymede Road, the historic Runnymede Theatre has been a part of Bloor West Village for 88 years. First built in 1927, the Runnymede was utilized as a vaudeville theatre until it was converted into a movie house in the 1930s due to the rise of motion pictures. Four decades later, as single-screen cinemas declined and the 1970s brought the popularity of bingo, the Runnymede was converted into a bingo hall. In 1980 however, the Runnymede was again transformed into a movie theatre, this time equipped with two screens. The movie theatre days of the Runnymede finally ended with the movie "You've Got Mail" playing in February of 1999, within the same year the building re-opened as a Chapters Indigo bookstore.
16 years later, with the rise of online shopping, the Runnymede turned Chapters' last page and has once again re-opened its doors, this time as a Shoppers Drug Mart.
The above two images capture the Runnymede's first floor from the balcony, before and after its most recent transformation. Once overwhelmed by books and bookshelves at every corner, it has now been transformed into a showcase for beauty products. In both images the proscenium arch and red curtain of the old theatre are in place, while the stars that once twinkled on the Runnymede's ceiling during its theatre days are no longer to be seen.
Although the retailer has changed, the Runnymede has retained much of its original design. For example, the Runnymede's frontal facade, main entrance and second floor balcony, seen above, have all been preserved.
Among the many noteworthy features of the Runnymede are its main entrance which has undergone a significant transformation, while sensitively keeping its historical feel and appearance. The flooring has been altered from carpet to ceramic and the former brown railings have been replaced with a more modern white, in keeping with Shoppers Drug Mart branding. The celling located at the centre of the ground floor has also been repainted. Lighting is now provided by LED lights which can be found inside the ledges of each shelf, showing off the products.
Few of Toronto's single-screen movie houses remain in a way that retains any of their former glory. A few now operate as event spaces, but most have been converted so dramatically that their former use has been totally obliterated while others have been completely demolished. The Runnymede is unique in having retain much of its original design while having completely changed use.
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