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Massey Hall is a venerable performing arts theatre in the Garden District of downtown Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. The theatre originally was designed to seat 3,500 patrons but, after extensive renovations in the 1940s, now seats up to 2,752.


A postcard of Massey Hall, circa 1910
Designed by architect Sidney Badgley, Massey Hall was built in 1894 at a cost of $152,390.75. Construction was financed by Hart Massey of Massey-Harris (later Massey Ferguson, then Varity Corporation). The hall's debut concert was on June 14, 1894. In 1933, the Massey Foundation undertook further renovations to the hall. It is currently used for a variety of events and is operated by the same corporation as Roy Thomson Hallmarker.

Many dignitaries have attended the Hall since its inauguration. In 1901, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (the future King George V and his wife Queen Mary) visited with Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier.

Massey Hall was the site of the legendary Charlie Parker-Dizzy Gillespie concert recorded as Jazz at Massey Hall in May 1953. Accompanying Gillespie and Parker in this acoustically sound hall were Bud Powell, Max Roach and Charles Mingus.

Many famous figures have appeared on the broad stage of this stately hall, including Rush, Winston Churchill, Enrico Caruso, Neil Young, Steely Dan, The Killers, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Luciano Pavarotti, Toscanini, George Gershwin, Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould, the Dalai Lama, Maria Callas and many others.


Massey Hall, as seen from Yonge St.
In 1975, Toronto City Council designated Massey Hall a "Heritage Property" under the province's Ontario Heritage Act.

In 1994, to commemorate the Hall's 100th anniversary, the basement was completely refurbished to include Centuries, a fully-stocked bar. Prior to this addition, alcohol was not permitted in the hall. The decor of Centuries includes hundreds of photos of artists who have performed there over the years (largely collecting portraits of popular music stars since the eighties) including many autographs. Centuries has a capacity of 220 people, and often hosts CD release parties and post-show parties for the visiting artists. Roughly five years after Centuries was created, an additional bar in the balcony lounge was added.

At some point in its renovation history, three of the windows at the front of the venue were converted into doors, and a pair of fire escape staircases were installed along the front face of the building. The doors at the front of the venue were painted red (from their earlier brown-gold colour), a large neon sign was hung above the main entrance, and notice boards listing upcoming acts were revamped on either side of those doors.

See also


  1. The Masseys Founding Family by Mollie Gillen 1965

External links

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