In 1930 Frederick Guest, the owner of a chain of theatres in Southern Ontario, visited Vancouver. And fell in love with the city. He decided that he had to have a theatre here so he hired Henry Holdsby Simmons, a Vancouver architect, to design one. Hence the Stanley was born.
On December 5, 1930 the theatre opened with a screening of One Romantic Night, Lillian Gish's first talkie. The Stanley was the place to go, the only theatre where on a Saturday a young movie goer could catch two matinees for the high price of a dime. The Stanley also held live entertainment shows during it's early days.
In 1941 the theatre was sold to Famous Players and the neon sign was installed. During World War II fundraisers for the war effort were held. Also during the forties the Stanley would hold surprise screenings on Thursdays and the place would be filled.
During the 1950s and 60s though, with the introduction of television, attendence dropped. To try to combat the decline, the Stanley would bring in blockbusters and, for a price, seats could be reserved. The theatre also installed high-performance sound and projection systems as well as refurbishing the seats during the seventies and eighties. But sadly the doors closed in 1991 and it looked like this piece of Vancouver history was destined to decay and disappear.
But in March of 1997 the old dame was purchased and, with a little help from Granville Street merchants, reborn. Now it is home to live theatre and there are times I see crowds of people lined up outside. If I squint really hard, I bet you I could see the ladies and gents there for the grand opening that winter night 80 years ago.
The effects of time, poverty and perhaps lack of interest can be seen. Just like a person these old buildings need care and love.
I hope you see the beauty around you.
TAGS:Vancouver, Karen Magill, South Granville, Stanley Theatre,Lillian Gish,Pittman Business School,Walk,history,