Downtown Victoria Tour
Centennial Square / Government Street – 1600 Block

McPherson Playhouse

The McPherson Playhouse, on Government Street between Pandora Avenue and Fisgard Street, was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M. Warren for the Victoria real estate investment firm of McPherson, Fullerton & Elliot.

This Victoria Heritage Building was listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 1995.

McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square, Government Street elevation. This building was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren for the Victoria real estate firm of McPherson, Fullerton & Elliot

McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square, Government Street elevation. This building was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren for the Victoria real estate firm of McPherson, Fullerton & Elliot

The McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square, was originally designed in 1914 as an office building by architect Jesse Warren

The McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square, was originally designed in 1914 as an office building by architect Jesse Warren

The McPherson Playhouse as seen from Government Street and Pandora Avenue. The original 1914 building is in the background and the 1963 addition is in the foreground.

The McPherson Playhouse as seen from Government Street and Pandora Avenue. The original 1914 building is in the background and the 1963 addition is in the foreground.

 

Here is a map showing the location of the McPherson Playhouse:

Here is a Google Street View image of the McPherson Playhouse, seen from Government Street:

Additional Information on the McPherson Playhouse

A Brief History of the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square

The McPherson Playhouse was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M. Warren for the Victoria real estate investment firm of McPherson, Fullerton & Elliot. The principal partner in this firm was Thomas Shanks McPherson, who became the owner of the building.

The building was first leased to the Pantages Theatre, which moved here from 566 Johnson Street in 1914. The Pantages Theater chain ran it as a vaudeville venue which also showed movies.

As the vaudeville circuit declined in the 1920’s, the Pantages Theatre began to emphasize movies but was also used for live performances and concerts. Over the years it operated under a variety of names, including the York Theatre, the Empire Theatre and the York Theatre.

When owner Thomas Shanks McPherson died in 1962, his will bequeathed this theatre to the City of Victoria along with funds for its restoration. The City of Victoria upgraded the theatre, including the addition on the south side that is now the theatre entrance. The renovated McPherson Playhouse was incorporated into the Centennial Square redevelopment. It is now operated by the Royal & McPherson Theatre Society, which also operates the Royal Theatre at 805 Broughton Street.

Here are some photos of the original interior detailing of the McPherson Playhouse.

These Satyrs faces are original interior detailing in the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square. This theate was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren and much of its original interior detail is still intact.

These Satyrs faces are original interior detailing in the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square. This theatre was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren and much of its original interior detail is still intact.

This Satyr's face is an original interior detail the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square. This theate was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren and much of its original interior detail is still intact.

This Satyr’s face is an original interior detail the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square. This theatre was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren and much of its original interior detail is still intact.

These seating panels are original interior detailing in the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square. This theate was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren and much of its original interior detail is still intact.

These aisle panels on the balcony seating are original interior detailing in the McPherson Playhouse, 3 Centennial Square. This theatre was built in 1914 by architect Jesse M.Warren and much of its original interior detail is still intact.

Here are some movie advertisements and playbills from the theaters which operated here over the decades:

1917 – The Cigarette Girl, starring Gladys Hulette, with supporting vaudeville acts

1921 – Jack Dempsey – Georges Carpentier Boxing World Championship 

1921 advertisement for the Pantages Theater (now the McPherson Playhouse), feature presentation: the heavyweight World Championship boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Georges Charpentier (2 July 1921 in Jersey City, New Jersey)

1921 advertisement for the Pantages Theater (now the McPherson Playhouse), feature presentation: the heavyweight World Championship boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Georges Charpentier (2 July 1921 in Jersey City, New Jersey)

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