Regent Theatre

150 Locke Street,
Hamilton, ON L8P 4A9

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TivFan on May 2, 2012 at 4:33 am

I looked at the Regent when it was for sale. This building is typical of the theater design. Two stores fronts were on either side of the theater entrance. There wasn’t much lobby space, and the entrance went directly to the auditorium. Above the stores, were two apartments and directly across the hall was the projection room. When looking out of the projection room wall openings, you could see the ceiling above the drop-ceiling. The auditorium was very plain, with no detailing or decoration. The stage area was only ten- to twenty feet deep, to the back wall.

TivFan on May 2, 2012 at 4:13 am

The Regent is right in my neighborhood. I used to walk by this place, countless times, not knowing this used to be a theater. For many years it was a Jehovah’s Witness meeting hall. The main entrance was in the center, but the storefronts on either side were completely covered over. In the entrance way, the name REGENT was spelled out in red mosaic/tile (on white). When Locke Street was redone and repaved, the elevation of the sidewalk was altered and the tiled area was covered with concrete to even the surface with the sidewalk.
The Jehovah’s Witness group had levelled the floor with a wooden structure, with the raked floor still underneath. A drop ceiling was also installed. After the JW left, the building was used by an antique business. When the building was sold, the owners uncovered the two store fronts (as seen in the Google street view). During the alteration, some of the original theater display windows and the tiled entrance were uncovered. The Regent tiled entrance my still existed under the current surfacing.

schmadrian on May 10, 2006 at 3:10 am

Whoops! Red-faced apologies to Bill: his last name is MANSON, not Mason.

schmadrian on May 10, 2006 at 3:08 am

Here’s some additional information as provided by Bill Mason, author of ‘Up and Down Locke Street’. (Please note that this material is copyrighted.)

“In 1918, a 640 seat silent-movie theatre was constructed on a site on Locke Street South, which since 1885 had been occupied by wooden cottages. All movies, which were projected onto the white painted back wall, cost a nickel, and were accompanied by a piano-player down-front. Saturday matinees were typically “oaters” and “cliffhangers” which delighted the neighbourhood children and adults alike.

With the invention of “talking pictures”, the Regent, now owned by the United Amusement Co., was extensively renovated in 1930. New and more seats were added, a larger stage built, the wooden floors replaced with concrete and carpeted, a fresh air ventilation system installed, and an up-to-date lighting system incorporated. Together with the newly-muralled walls, the modern lighting “leant to the theatre a fairy-like scene of rare brilliancy” according to one reporter. The building was also “completely fireproofed”, a state-of the-art sound system set up, mirrors installed in the lobby, and a marquee added “which [could] be seen for a great distance on Locke street, and [enhanced] the appearance of the street”. Each evening, between 6:40 and 7:00 pm before the new “silver screen” lit up, popular music played in the soft glow of the new sidelights installed in the most up-to-date cinema in Hamilton. All this cost $25,000.

With the advent of television, this neighbourhood theatre, like so many of its kind, fell upon hard times. The building, which still contained its seats and equipment, lay empty for several years. Since the late 50’s it has been used with extensive renovations by a number of religious groups, as a meeting hall, as an antiques store, and as a drama school. The renovation of the facade has masked the nature and purpose of the original structure, although a glance down the south side of the building reveals some of its original architecture. "