Monday, October 4, 2010

Seville Theater is Done -More Montreal History Disappears- C'est le vie I guess

                        So long, dearie, dearie, should have said so long, so long ago.

The Seville Theatre, that once venerable cinema palace, is falling down. Literally.

After decades of neglect, the bulldozers arrived this morning and are in the process of yanking out the steel girders and tearing down the front wall. 

 The whole place will be gone by nightfall.

My homeless friends, who are parked on the sidewalk when I walk by on my way to and from work every day, have already begun migrating to new patches in this woebegone end of Ste. Catherine St.

Now they really need to move on.

Walking by this morning, I was reminded of my first days as a columnist -- in those days, I was writing the city column. On my second day on the job, I wrote this piece about Janet MacKinnon, who was campaigning to save the theatre.

Even then, the Seville was already in a desperate state of mould and pigeons, but it could have been saved if the city had the energy and the means.

But Montreal, was in dire financial shape in the 1980s and early 1990s, barely staying afloat.

Fare thee well.

              ............and so we face the final curtain,   


Les F said...

Here is a compilation of Montreal Movie Houses,(not all but many we recall) watch the slide show ,


Les F said...

Again the 'Full Screen Option is good,.....and adjust the speed of the slide show too,.if you like.
-Cheers !! HF&RV-

john allison said...

Been to them all. What an age to live in.....

Guy Billard said...

Those theatres where real works of art. I don't think we appreciated them at the time, we where only interested in seeing the movies. Only today do we realise how beautiful those theaters where.
I remember the going to the Seville in the early 50s, there was a combination of vaudeville and a movie but it was towards the end of an era with the coming of television. I noticed that the Savoy is shown on the video but not the other three theatres we had in Verdun, the Verdun Palace, the Park and the Fifth avenue. I would particularly like to have the period exterior views to add those missing theatres to my Album no.10 collection. We would take the Bannantyne or Verdun Avenue buses up Atwater and we where downtown in 15 minutes. Thanks again Les for bringing back those wonderfull memories.

Les F said...

Two Montreal companies have joined forces to bring new life to the former Seville Theatre.

25 years after the theatre was shut down and left to rot, and after countless projects withered on the development vine, a plan to revitalize the area seems to have finally taken root.

Developpements Immobiliers Seville, a business entity formed by Montreal-based investment firm Claridge and real estate developer Prevel, plan to invest more than $100 million to revitalize the block on the north side of Ste. Catherine St. W. between Chomedey and Lambert Closse streets.

In an effort to "transform one of Montreal's great neighbourhoods," Claridge chairman Stephen Bronfman said the proposed site will consist of a mixed commercial-residential complex.

It will be a "development composed of affordably priced apartments, accessible to a large and diverse market, with commercial spaces integrated at street level," Bronfman said in a statement released Monday.

Mayor Tremblay was involved

Mayor Gerald Tremblay says he took steps to bring this project to fruition.

"I was instrumental in a sense because of my good relationship with Steven Bronfman in saying 'listen we have to do this as soon as possible,'" said Mayor Tremblay.

People who live and work in the neighbourhood have been complaining about the lack of upkeep for decades.

"It's a terrible disgrace," said resident George Racine. "it should have been done long ago, this block has been like this for years now."

The local residents association is thrilled, and pleased that a project to build student housing fell through.

"Not that we're against having students, because that's what it was supposed to be originally, but these are people that are going to buy because they want to be in the area and they want to be part of downtown," said Roger Peace.

The details of the project are being finalized and the developer is planning to submit a proposal to the Ville Marie borough next month.

Shopping on the street, residential towers above

It includes street-level shops, and up to 450 housing units in three towers.

Many of the condominiums will be priced around $200,000.

"Our primary buyer will be a young professional seeking a first-time home," said Jonathan Sigler of the Prevel group.

Peace worries the area won't appeal to buyers unless others, including the Doris Centre for women, move out.

"There's problems with security, homeless people and drugs, so we're working with La Maison Doris to put all the pieces together," said Peace.

If permission for demolition work is granted, the construction would begin in the fall, and the first units would be available for tenants in the spring of 2012.

Les F said...

I see the same scenario playing out all across the country where buildings have been left empty for a long time & now there seems to be a push to repopulate the downtown core of most cities,Which would revitalize the 'city life' / 'nightlife' ...maybe it's a good thing,but I would hope my days of wanting to live in a downtown core are over,.............................but to each their own, Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

Here is a little more on the Seville's Timeline from a Gazette story seeveral months back:

Here's the Seville's sad timeline:

Theatre venue, heritage site, empty shell

The Seville Theatre was a live-theatre venue, concert hall, movie house and repertory cinema. The building's story reflects the story of downtown's black hole: Ste. Catherine St. W. between Lambert-Closse and Chomedey Sts.

1929 Seville Theatre opens, one of only 15 "atmospheric" theatres built in Canada, its ceiling painted to resemble a blue sky with twinkling silver stars. Though a movie house for most of its life, it also featured live entertainment at times, presenting the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong.

1978-1985 The theatre is a repertory cinema, with regular screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show for fans dressed up as characters from the film. The rep's operators say they have to close after the building's owner quadruples the rent. Stop Making Sense is the last movie scheduled to be shown on closing day, Oct. 31, 1985.

1990 The city declares the Seville a heritage building because of its interesting architecture and historical value. The designation means the building cannot be demolished and its exterior is protected from major changes. The interior is not protected.

1994 The owners of the building try unsuccessfully to overturn the city's historic-site designation. A 12-by-20-foot wall of bricks tumbles from the Seville on to the sidewalk on Chomedey St. Thirteen years later, the hole remains, along with gaps in other walls and the roof, making the building popular with pigeons.

1996 A block west of the Seville, the Forum closes as home to the Montreal Canadiens. At the Seville, a heritage activist calls police after she sees workers taking down part of the marquee. Controversy erupts over whether the sign is protected. In the end, the sign is removed and discarded.

1998 Mayor Pierre Bourque is on hand as it is announced the Seville's interior will be gutted to make room for a $2-million, two-storey retail and office building. The facade is to be restored. The theatre's interior is eviscerated but the complex is never built. A painted-over "For Rent" sign from this era is still visible on the theatre's facade.

2001 After a $75-million transformation, the Forum reopens as the Pepsi Forum entertainment complex, featuring movie theatres, restaurants and retail outlets. Six years later, the complex is still struggling.

2002 158115 Canada Inc., a company whose majority shareholder is a company controlled by Stephen R. Bronfman, spends $10 million to buy the Seville and neighbouring buildings on the block of Ste. Catherine St. W., between Lambert-Closse and Chomedey Sts., as well as a parking lot in back.

2003 Claridge never announced its plans but according to a Canada Housing and Mortgage Corp. document, the company wanted to create an environmentally friendly, mixed-use complex featuring retail space, offices, apartments and condominiums.

2004-2005 Claridge asks a few tenants on the block to vacate the premises, according the Shaughnessy Village Association, a group of local residents. But the eco-project never happens.

2007 The block's last tenant - the Bombay Palace restaurant - moves out, complaining about the state of the neighbourhood and high insurance costs. Neighbouring restaurants had already shut their doors, including the Texan and Harvey's. Several businesses across the street closed in recent years, including a St. Hubert barbecue-chicken restaurant and an Omer DeSerres art-supply store. Now, the city says a developer wants to buy the Seville block and put up a privately run student residence.

- Andy Riga -----------------------HF&RV------------

Les F said...

I figured someone would have filmed the wrecking ball or demolition of the old Seville,found this very short video today, and so without futher ado,(or coming attractions) here's the video:

keeping you up to date , Cheers !! HF&RV

Les F said...

from the blog Spacing Montreal:
October 5th, 2010
Seville’s Final Spectacle
By Alanah Heffez // 3 Comments

Demolition of the Seville Theatre began yesterday. This afternoon, I noticed that a small crowd had gathered on the sidewalk - most were older gentlemen come to pay their last respects to the theatre, which has stood on the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Chomedey for the past 80 years.

One gentleman told me that he remembered when the building housed a Vaudeville theatre, before it became a cinema. He pointed out the space at the north end of the building where the stage had been and the wings where performers once waited to make their entrances. He said he had recently been able to go into the abandoned building to take some photos and found that a group of homeless Inuit had taken up residence in the wings, laying down bedding on all three levels of the structure. The Seville has been abandoned for 25 years.