In the old village of New Edinburgh, where history has a miraculous tendency to survive, a piece of Hull’s theatrical heritage has been recognized and preserved
When the wrecker’s ball swung in 1963 on the old Laurier Theatre, a piece of entertainment history disappeared from Hull. But there were survivors: stained-glass windows, two half-moon designs, with hues of blue and orange throughout.
A lover of architectural antiques rescued the stained-glass windows from the old Laurier Theatre and stored them for 20 years above the old Hardy Arcade on Sparks Street.
Today the windows enjoy a second life in a little modern house. In the 1980s, Michael Valiquette was working with architect Barry Hobin to build his family a house in New Edinburgh when he discovered the windows and took them home, where they now filter coloured light — along with a whiff of history.
The story of the Laurier Theatre began in 1908, when Hull’s first cinema patrons were invited into a fenced lot off rue Principale to see moving images projected onto the back fence. A few years later, a building was erected on the site to host touring vaudeville acts. At the time, it was Hull’s largest and most important theatre.
The Laurier closed for renovations in 1927, when a whopping $43,000 was spent to transform the humble brick building into a stucco-clad, art deco aristocrat with stained-glass windows and a spanking new electric marquee. Times got tough for independent cinemas, but the Laurier survived by specializing in French-language films and artists. Still, all good things pass away. For this particular episode of local cinematic history, it was the arrival of television that ultimately spelled “The End.”