One of Toronto’s most notable event spaces is about to mark ten years of being back in the hosting business. Renowned for its architectural beauty, The Carlu has been chosen for major events taking place in our city including the Blackberry 10 launch, Ann Taylor Canadian launch, TIFF’s amFAR gala and the MotionBall Gala. Since its closing in 1976 it has been a long road for Toronto event visionaries Mark Robert and Jeffry Roick to bring the historical site back to its original glamour.
When it opened in 1930, the seventh floor of Eaton’s College Street was the pride and joy of Lady Eaton, Toronto’s grande dame who presided over many sumptuous soirées orchestrated in the sophisticated spaces designed by French architect Jacques Carlu (1890 – 1976).
The 1200-seat Concert Hall, a great achievement in its time, attracted international performers like jazz singer Billie Holliday, big band leader Duke Ellington, and old blue eyes Mr. Frank Sinatra. The venue became known for its attention to detail, which was important to the architect who held rein over every decision stretching from the style of lighting to the choice of stemware and waitresses’ uniforms in the circular dining area known as The Round Room.
Before it was closed in 1976, the elegant walls had been painted orange and the fabulous fountain, which was lit from below, taken apart. Although designated a National Historic Site in 1982, after much lobbying by a concerned group of Torontonians, the doors remained closed.
In 2001, Mark Robert and Jeffry Roick faced the almost impossible task of raising $8 million to restore the one-of-a-kind architectural masterpiece at Yonge and College Streets.After six months of seeking financial support from banks and government, Robert and Roick eventually turned to private investors who provided the funds needed to undertake the massive project, referred to at the time as ‘the highest profile heritage restoration in Canada.’ Naysayers said they wouldn’t even last a year.
A decade later, more than a half-million guests have attended 1,650 events that include 900 corporate launches and conferences — triple the number from four years earlier — as well as gala fêtes ranging from the Genies to the ACTRA Awards.
Check back next week when we bring you more on the anniversary of The Carlu. For now, check out the beautiful venue.