Pantages Playhouse Theatre National Historic Site of Canada
© Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 1995.
180 Market Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1923 to 2004
1913 to 1914
1913 to 1923
Event, Person, Organization:
City of Winnipeg
George W. Northwood
B. Marcus Priteca
Pantages Playhouse Theatre
Existing plaque: 180 Market Avenue, in the modern lobby addition, Winnipeg, Manitoba
This theatre, with its particularly lavish interior, was the finest ever built in Winnipeg. Constructed in 1913-1914 to the designs of architects George W. Northwood and B. Marcus Priteca, it originally presented live theatrical, musical and vaudeville performances. The Pantages Company, a major American vaudeville chain, built numerous similar theatres in Canada. Vaudeville theatres of this type constructed between 1913 and 1930 were among the grandest ever built in Canada but few survive today. The Playhouse continues to play a central role in the social and cultural life of the city.
Description of Historic Place
Pantages Playhouse Theatre National Historic Site of Canada is a former vaudeville theatre built in the early twentieth century in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. Its Edwardian baroque façade, with its classical detailing and full-length marquee signals its original prestige as a public venue. Official recognition refers to the theatre on its footprint, excluding the addition built in 1990.
Pantages Playhouse Theatre was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989 because: constructed in 1913 -1914, it is one of the few surviving and one of the finest vaudeville theatres built between the 1913-1930 in Canada specifically for the presentation of live theatrical performance.
The heritage value of the Pantages Playhouse Theatre National Historic Site of Canada lies in the integrity with which its features continue to represent the characteristics of vaudeville theatres from the 1913-1930 period. Winnipeg’s Pantages Playhouse Theatre was designed by architects George W. Northwood and B. Marcus Priteca and built in 1913-14 for the Pantages Company, a major American vaudeville chain, to present live theatrical, musical and vaudeville performances. Theatres of this type are among the grandest ever built in Canada. The Pantages Playhouse was acquired by the City of Winnipeg in 1923, and the city has continued to run it since that time.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1989.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage value of this site include: its two-storey massing under a flat roof; its utilitarian rear and side elevations and decorative façade; the decorative five-bay façade with projecting three-bay central section and arched, lit marquee stretching across the entire width; the use of classical decorative elements at the second storey including columns, brackets, frieze and cornice; the decorative legend embedded below the roof line with the word “Pantages” flanked by “unequaled” and “vaudeville”; its brick and terra cotta facing materials and steel-frame construction technology; surviving original interior layout; surviving original lobby decor, including the marble sheathing and the decorative plaster ceiling; the deep volume of the auditorium with its raked orchestra, raked and curved balcony, boxes, vaulted ceiling, and square-headed proscenium arch; the lavish decorative plasterwork and rich colour scheme of the auditorium; its layout and furnishings adapted to live performance; its prominent setting on Market Avenue, within the Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada.