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Uptown Theatre

394 Academy Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/12/08

Primary elevation, from the north, of the Uptown Theatre, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism 2006
Primary Elevation
Wall detail of the Uptown Theatre, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Contextual view, from the northwest, of the Uptown Theatre, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism 2006
Contextual View

Other Name(s)

Uptown Theatre
Uptown Bowling Alleys

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1930/01/01 to 1931/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/10/25

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Uptown Theatre, a two-storey steel, concrete and brick structure built in 1930-31 to resemble a Moorish palace, overlooks a major street in one of south Winnipeg's mixed residential-commercial neighbourhoods. A modern addition is attached to its east side. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the 1931 building on its footprint.

Heritage Value

The Uptown Theatre, a fancifully exuberant representation of the Moorish architecture of Spain, is the only 'atmospheric' theatre built in Winnipeg during the industry's golden era of the 1920s and 1930s. Architect Max Blankstein drew on precedents established in Chicago to make the substantial structure an imaginative and exotic part of the entertainment package, one designed to appeal to moviegoers from well beyond the affluent south Winnipeg residential area in which the Uptown was situated. Later converted to a bowling alley, the facility, with its domed towers and rich array of exterior ornament, continues to be a community landmark.

Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Meeting Minutes, December 8, 1986

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Uptown Theatre site include:
- its location on the south side of Academy Road between Ash and Waterloo streets, next to a row of small local shops in a mainly residential neighbourhood
- the building's height, size and exotic decoration, making it dominant in the immediate area

Key exterior elements that define the Uptown as an atmospheric theatre include:
- the elongated rectangular form and two-storey height constructed of steel, concrete and brick, with raised limestone facing along the base of the front (north) facade
- the Spanish-influenced treatment of the box-like, symmetrical front, executed in smooth and textured buff-coloured stucco tinted golden yellow, with hints of pinks, greens and ambers, and profusely enriched by stucco, metal, tile and limestone details
- the central entrance bay clearly defined by a long horizontal marquee and by twin three-storey towers with flamboyantly embellished bases and metal-clad domed roofs with finials
- the sculpted fenestration, limited to the front elevation and including a large architraval-framed feature window accompanied by twisted colonnettes, urns, an ornamented niche, serpentine motifs, etc.; also, curvilinear openings, cusped and round oculi, and flat-headed and round-arched windows with wrought-iron balconets
- the northwest retail space with its large plate glass window and transomed door
- the fulsome array of visually engaging decorative elements, including red-tiled Spanish roof sections; balustraded parapet sections with grille-work and floral buds; ornamented urns and niches; fluted and channelled stucco-work; various arch, floral and geometric motifs, the corner pilasters accented by balconets, twisted columns and vertical flutes cross-cut by deep diagonal channels; the main-floor entablatures and wave moulding; etc.
- the framed areas for show bills set into the bases of the towers
- the east elevation's raised pilaster ends with niches, small domes and finials, red-tiled roof sections and balustraded parapet
- the simply massed south and west facades, finished in red-brown brick, with pilasters, stepped parapets and repetitive patterned brickwork

Key elements that define the theatre's interior character include:
- structural elements such as the distinctive shouldered arch topped with a low-relief architectural detail in the lobby, the stairways leading to the second floor and to the former projection area, etc.




Recognition Authority

City of Winnipeg

Recognition Statute

City of Winnipeg Act

Recognition Type

Winnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type


Sports Facility or Site


Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub

Architect / Designer

Max Blankstein



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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