Doors, Ghosts, and More

To followup on my post earlier this week about the Winter Garden Theatre, today I’m featuring the interior doors and doorways of its main floor sister, the Elgin.

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre5

She’s an elegant Grand Dame, faithfully restored to her former glory … save for the evidence of modern stage lighting and sound equipment.

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre21The inside of the doors featured in last week’s post of Thursday Doors

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre16
Inside lobby doors

The fabric covering on the walls was reproduced from small patches of the original wall-covering found under 26 layers of paint.

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre3

As with many old buildings, the Elgin and Winter Garden have their fair share of ghost stories. They include the “White Lady” purported to have been seen hovering at the top of the Grand Staircase, the “Lavender Lady” characterized by the scent of lavender that will inexplicably waft through the Winter Garden, and the mysterious movements of the elevator.

The three elevators are fully functional and original to the 1913 building.  It is operated by a manual handle on the inside of the elevator.  One of these elevators is said to occasionally travel between floors on its own – a technical impossibility.

Yes, we rode in the *haunted* elevator.  At first it was reluctant to move, but then suddenly started its descent without further coaxing.

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre8

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre2
Outer door to the elevator

We were unable to visit the backstage of either theatre because there were productions in rehearsal, but we were given access to the original (non functional) washrooms on the upper level off the Winter Garden theatre.

After squeezing between the doorway and a privacy barrier immediately inside the door, I found a TINY washroom.  Ladies, I will no longer complain about the current size of the facilities available in modern buildings.

We were told that at the time, these washrooms were a bit of a scandal to the moral sensibilities of the day.  The Men’s and Ladies’ washrooms were located side-by-side in the lobby – not unlike placement today in most buildings.

At the time however, it was considered quite inappropriate that men could view a woman entering a washroom.

Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre12

I don’t like to end this post on the inside of an old washroom, so I’ll close with a view of the exterior doors, this time including the box office kiosk.

Elgin Box Office

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by the Head Door Man, Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.


  1. Oh, MY! Men weren’t supposed to see women go into the bathroom? Times really have changed. I was in a stall the other day and thought I heard a man’s voice. I came out and, sure enough, a man was washing his hands. He saw me and said, “I thought it looked strange in here.”
    I used the other sink, just in case he thought he was using a urinal.😂
    Sounds like you had a great tour.


    • I can’t help but laugh because my younger son told me a similar story a while ago – except that he was that guy in the women’s washroom.
      He had one of those “brain fart” moments when he interpreted the *W* on the door to mean *Washroom* 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. Hey! You’ve got ghosts too! This theatre looks amazing, it’s the kind of place I love both as a theatre going and a sightseeer . We have a Winter Gardens in a nearby seaside town. I must post about it as it’s all Art Deco.


  3. Immensely beautiful. Love the history too – it’s not that long ago that men and women were separated so needlessly. And the attitude of not seeing a woman approach a bathroom – ugh. We have come a long way, baby. Not enough. but a long way.


  4. Ooohhh…I would have loved to have taken a ride in the haunted elevator! Those doors have some stunning stained glass! I love that they were able to find a way to use the patches of fabric that they found. Thanks so much for sharing. The Elgin is a beauty 🙂


  5. When i think of today where many restrooms have shared sinks the people of the past may have a cardiac event should they see such shenanigans! 26 layers of paint! Now that is a reno job I’m not sure I would want ot take on. What a beautiful job they have done. The balcony details are incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for taking us back and sharing more photos of this beautiful building and what must have been a painstaking restoration. Imaging finding the fabric under so many layers of paint! Great doors, and I appreciate restroom door, even the bathroom had an elegant touch.

    Liked by 1 person

      • They probably had photos, but I would never have guessed that someone painted over fabric. I would have assumed they had removed it. Although, the previous owners of our house painted over wall paper, papered over that paint and then painted over the 2nd layer of wall paper, so…

        Liked by 1 person

    • When I was a kid, I watched an episode of the original Dr Who with the Daleks. It scared me half to death. I’ve had this irrational fear of machines coming to life ever since. I put elevators in that category too!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Those balconies are awesome! And the stained glass (2nd shot) – don’t laugh – reminded me on Spaghetti Factory, because they have one with the pattern you are showing:) Am surprized at the stained floor of the wash room – hadn’t expected it in such a beautiful building:) Lovely tour, Joanne!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you talking about the Old Spaghetti Factory in Toronto or was there another one?! The Toronto Spaghetti Factory was another wonderful place full of eye candy, but sadly it is gone.

      The old washroom is closed to the public and had obviously not undergone any restoration. I think that was one of the reasons I found it rather fascinating.


      • Live about one and a half hour from Sacramento now. Was talking about that one, where we went for birthdays of the grand kids. It has an actually more luxurious interior than the one in the Los Angeles – Fullerton. (Seeing all these beautiful buildings in Thurs. doors, Iwish, but have never been in Toronto:) )

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love that elevator! It reminds me of the one at the Hotel del Coronado. Funny that it was scandalous to see ladies enter a washroom. Now, you see ladies going into men’s room since the ladies rooms never have enough stalls. How times have changed.


  9. I love ghost stories!! And your beautiful building and doors look like they would keep a few ghosts tucked away. Did you note any lavendar fragrances floating about?


    • I love a good ghost story too. It gives a building a certain je ne sais quoi 🙂

      I had no ghost sightings, or in this case – “smellings”. It’s probably just as well. It would likely scare me half to death.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your posts continue to make me homesick. I love learning all of the additional details (like the part about the wallpaper) that I never knew!


    • It’s very rare I get so many great photos that I have trouble choosing which ones to use. That was the case after this visit.
      I think this building is magnificent 🙂


      • There’s so much to love about this story than just another beautiful old building
        1) the powers-that-be actually changed their minds and reversed their original decision! That is so rare!
        2) not only was the building saved, they invested in it to make it better
        3) … and the expansions were respectful to the original plan
        4) the former students know what a treasure they have and keep going back.



  11. I must admit I prefer the elegance of the Elgin over the Winter Garden. We are so lucky to have the entertainment district & all of it’s beautiful theatres in our backyards. Do you plan on covering the rest of them? Perhaps we should book a performance at the same time!


    • There is a thought I hadn’t considered … a series on Toronto’s theatre scene. How sad that the Mirvish restaurants are gone. They would have been a fabulous counter to the theatre series, and Ed’s Warehouse would have been so much fun to write about!! I remember going there so often when I first came to Toronto. The food wasn’t anything, but the ambiance!! Wowzer.


  12. Love the stained glass doors in the lobby, and over the main doors.
    The balcony boxes are lovely with all their ornamental details and gold paint.

    I rode in a very old elevator in Paris several times and it was ever so slow. Taking the stairs 3 floors was much faster. 🙂


  13. Buildings like this need a ghost, there is just no way aorund it. The inside is so charming, I can imagine how it must feel to actualy be there. It’s like a trip with a time machine. Lovely, just lovely.


  14. Wonderful doors in a glorious old landmark building. You had me at “26 layers of paint”.
    I have yet to attend a show in either of these places but they are on my list.
    Ever wonder how those who thought men seeing women heading off to the loo was scandalous would feel about the washroom debates of 2017? A few heads would explode, perhaps? 😀


    • If I remember correctly, it was quite fashionable in the 1960s-70s. My parents had a black version in their bedroom. It’s much too busy for my taste, although admittedly it seems to work in a very large space like a theatre.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Ed and I were Mirvish seasons ticket holders for 10 years before my travel schedule made it impossible for me to see most of the shows in the package. Loved seeing shows here and at the Wintergarden. (And back in the day at Pantages before it changed names.) Lovely buildings.


    • We were never seasons ticket holders, but because of work we saw virtually everything that came to the city. There are so many great venues in this city. I really should make a note of trying to visit them all.
      I am sad that the Mirvish restaurants are gone though. They were serious eye-candy!!


  16. Amazing that there were 26 layers of paint over the original fabric on the walls. I love it when old treasures are restored, preserved, and given new life. Funny about the washroom. 😀


  17. What a charming place! Even the “exit” signs are fancy!
    There’s something about old elevators that I quite like – just something about the feel of them, like they’re not as pretentious and cold as modern elevators. Not sure how I’d go with a haunted one though!


  18. What a beautiful theater! You were brave to try the elevator – I’m not comfortable in modern elevators, but if I know it could be haunted and old and rickety – no thank you, I’ll take the stairs.


    • I’m not a big fan of elevators … I’m always thinking of the possibility it could fail and I’ll be stranded in it.
      On the other hand, how could I NOT take the opportunity to ride in a *haunted* elevator? … especially in daylight hours 😉


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