Built in 1913, The Elgin and Winter Garden are the only remaining stacked theatres, designed by the famous theatre architect Thomas W. Lamb. The Elgin, originally called the Loew's Yonge Street Theatre, is the larger of the two. The Winter Garden was designed to resemble a rooftop garden, complete with real beech leaves hanging from the balcony, its columns designed as tree trunks, and an illuminated full moon shining down from the ceiling.
The theatres share a common ground floor lobby. Those going to the Winter Garden are carried upstairs in caged elevators.
The Yonge Street became a motion picture theatre by 1930, and over the decades slipped into a long, sad decline. Above, a shot of the ceiling.
There had been many renovations, some ill-conceived, such as removing the side balconies when Cinerama considered revamping the theatre, only to abandon the idea. Amazingly, when the theatre was restored, these side balconies were reconstructed,
The Winter Garden, closed in 1928, was walled off and virtually forgotten for sixty years. When it was restored in the late 80s, new beech leaves were gathered, fire-proofed and hung under the balcony.
The Ontario Heritage Foundation truly did a thorough and remarkable job in the theatres' restoration.
A bonus was the discovery of a large collection of Vaudeville props and scenery, which is the world's largest surviving collection. Two of these are on display in the new upstairs lobby serving the Winter Garden. Both theatres are generally open for tours twice a week.