Local History Advent Calendar 2019 – Day 4 – Broadway Theatre

Last year I took on the challenge of the first-ever Local History Advent Calendar! For 24 days in a row, I presented random historical tidbits I’d collected over the previous year and presented them in the form of “treats” for my 2018 Local History Advent Calendar. This year, the “Heart of Mount Pleasant” was number 1 on Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Watch List for 2019.  So I decided to choose Mount Pleasant as the theme for the Vanalogue Local History Advent Calendar for 2019.  Each day you can “open” a new historical treat. Think of them as holiday cocktail party fodder – 24 facts about Mount Pleasant history that can be used as conversation starters at your next social event.

The Broadway Theatre in 1917. Photo: VPL Special Collections 20365

The southeast corner of Broadway at Main (now a parking lot) was once home to Mount Pleasant’s own movie theatre! The Broadway Theatre (2530 Main St)  was built on property owned by Charles M. Bowman in 1916 for the Broadway Theatre Company Ltd. and was designed by William Frederick Gardiner (1884-1951), who designed many institutional and commercial buildings in Vancouver during the course of his long and prolific career. Retail businesses occupied the street-level spaces along Main street and there were offices above on the 2nd floor. The grand opening was held on October 16, 1916, and featured Pauline Frederick in “The Moment Before”.

Vancouver Sun, December 23, 1921

The history of the Broadway Theatre in Mount Pleasant is an interesting one. The first Broadway Theatre opened in 1912 with a seating capacity of 450 at 114 East Broadway (at Quebec) and was operated by Frank H. Gow (later with Famous Players Canadian Corp. Ltd.). Frank H. Gow managed the Broadway Theatre for the remainder of his career. A classified advertisement for a doorman for the new theatre stated that the ideal candidate was to be “sober and industrious”.

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Advert for the Broadway Theatre from the Vancouver Daily World Oct 11, 1912.
Vancouver Daily World. June 7, 1913.

In 1934, the Broadway Theatre was completely renovated and reequipped offering “Mount Pleasant citizens a completely new standard of motion picture entertainment”. The refreshed theatre reopened Christmas day complete with new “Dunlopillo” seats and a modern front entrance designed by Townley & Matheson in conjunction with Dixon & Murray Ltd.

The Province< December 22, 1934.

The Broadway Theatre closed in 1961 and was torn down shortly thereafter. The lot (actually two city lots) has been empty ever since.

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Google Streetview from April 2009 of the former location of the Broadway Theatre.