The story of the Gem Theatre is one of architectural evolution. The Gem was designed by Magoon and MacDonald in 1912. One version of he building's design was a simple four-storey Edwardian commercial structure. Stone and marble facing on the main floor were accented by pilasters and capitals, and a metal cornice. A central entrance to the theatre was flanked on either side by entrances to commercial spaces. An enetrance on the far let side, with a simple pediment above, gave access o the upper and lower floors. The higher floors were to be faced with brick, and incorporate stone stingcourses, another metal cornice, a parapet, and a central date stone. Perhaps because Goodridge was stretched financially, so soon after completing the nearby Goodridge Block, as well as te downturn in the economy, the upper floors were never built. Instead, the Gem Theatre became a very low-two story building (only the manager's office, machinery room , and projection booth were on the second floor). The secondary entrance remained, but provided access only to the basement, where a billiards room was located.
In the 1940s the main entrance to the Gem Theatre was renovated to include a Moderne style marquee with rounded edges and neon signage in front of a stucco-clad stepped parapet. These changes reflected the shift in desing and techonology popular in Edmonton theatres at the time. Further renovations occurred in 1979, when one commercial entrance was removed and the other doernized, and a new brick facade was constructed on the main floor.
The Gem Theatre was built by Leonard Goodridge in 1913. Leonard had built the Goodridge Block just up the street on Jasper Avenue and 97 Street the year before, and his father, James Goodridge, had built the 1882 Jasper Hotel which sat between Leonard's two buildings. Leonard Goodridge managed the theatre from the first show in 1914 unitl 1957. The theatre ceased showing motion pictures in 1957 and took on various commercial roles-including being host to a restaurant, the Chinese Cultural Society, and most notoriously a violence plagued nightclub called the Gem Ballroom. After years of problems the City closed the Gem Ballroom in 1979, and a local enterpreneur returned to its original function as a movie theatre. Renamed the Star Theatre, Chinese language films were played here until the late 1980s. The Gem Theatre was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource in 2000 beacuse of its significance as one of the early motion picture theatres in Edmonton, its architecture, and its relation to the Goodridge family. At the time there was great hope that the building would be restored to its former glory. Unfortunately, the work was never completed. In 2010, despite its recognitions as a Municipal Historic Resource, the theatre was deemed a public hazard and was demolished.
|Address||9682 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5H 3V5|
|Time Period||Urban Growth: 1905-1913
|Type||Social and Recreational|
H. A. Magoon
|Character Defining Elements||Two storeys , Flat roof , Irregular footprint , Stucco cladding , Marquee sign , Pendant , Cornice , Pilaster , Stepped parapet|
City of Edmonton Archives EA-245-166
proposed front elevation elevation
City of Edmonton Archives MS-328_184_Gem PropElev
Photo courtesy City of Edmonton Sustainable Development
City of Edmonton Archives MS-328-184_Gem flrpln
front elevation floor plan
City of Edmonton Archives MS-328_184_Gem