Behind a modest brick façade half a block west of Main and Hastings, is the oldest remaining Pantages Theatre in North America. Built in 1907 by Alexander Pantages as part of his emerging vaudeville and movie empire, this theatre is one of the oldest purpose-built vaudeville theatre interiors in Canada.
Its interior is breathtaking — its stepped balconies, vaulted ceiling and arched proscenium frame a jewel box of ornate plasterwork.
Although a group purchased the building several years ago to convert it into a licensed resto-lounge, it has remained empty for more than a decade. The property is now under the gavel for unpaid taxes, with the City selling at tax-sale prices to the highest bidder. We had high hopes the City itself might purchase the theatre to use as a community arts centre or music school, but there seems to be no interest at City Hall. Unless a sympathetic use can be found, the future of this landmark Canadian theatre is again highly uncertain.
Updated December 29, 2011: The final bricks are being palleted of what was the oldest surviving Pantages theatre from the once large chain of theatres, and Canada’s oldest surviving purpose-built vaudeville theatre – Vancouver’s Pantages Theatre is no more.
Updated April 7, 2006: Plans are underway to fully restore the theatre, inside and out, for community groups use in the Arts.
Updated October 26, 2008: The theatre is now seriously threatened, as restoration and financing plans have fallen through. See our main Pantages Theatre page for further updates.