The Toronto Dance Theatre, located at 80 Winchester Street, Cabbagetown, was first built in 1891 under the influence of architects Gorden & Helliwell, as well as Molesworth, West, & Secord. As one of the few bold Romanesque Revival structures in Toronto, and the only example of such style in Cabbagetown, the Toronto Dance Theater plays an important role culturally and historically in the Metcalfe Heritage Conservation District. A part from the Toronto Dance Theatre, one must also recognize the University of Toronto as Toronto’s most iconic form of Romanesque Revival. Together, these two buildings attract much admiration from architects all over the world.
The Toronto Dance Theatre History
Until 1979, the Toronto Dance Theatre led a rather nomadic lifestyle, operating out of various rented studios across the city. Eleven years the program existed before settling into the beautiful structure at 80 Winchester Street. The year right before moving in, The School of Toronto Dance Theatre became its own entity, led by co-founder David Earle. Since then, the Theatre and the School have both made a home out of this historical building, making the dreams of Martha Graham, Patricia Beatty, David Earle, and Peter Randazzo a reality as one of the country’s most renowned dance institutions. Today, the Toronto Dance Theatre is under the direction of Christopher House.
Romanesque Revival Characteristics
During the mid-19th century, Romanesque Revival architecture was a prominent style in churches, synagogues, universities, train stations, and government buildings in North America. Borrowing many details from 11th and 12th century Romanesque structures, this style can be distinguished by the following characteristics:
- Round arches over windows and doorways
- Rounded towers
- Thick masonry walls and a brick or stone asymmetrical facade
- Belt courses
- Deep points of entry