Neil Preston If you're a fan of Led Zeppelin, you're familiar with…
- Posted on Nov 2nd 2012 4:00PM by Aaron Brophy
Communications giant Bell Media, the owners of central Toronto television studio/concert venue the Masonic Temple, announced this week they were ceasing operations at the 95-year-old Davenport Rd. and Yonge St. building and "are considering all options" concerning its redevelopment.
In recent years the venue has been home to MTV Canada. A regular cavalcade of musicians and entertainers would make appearances at the MTV studios. Notably, Kanye West filmed a live concert there in 2006 and the Polaris Music Prize has hosted its awards gala there in recent years, as well.
"We are moving the MTV studios to 299 Queen St. and as a result, there will be no further production done at the Masonic Temple as of now," Scott Henderson, Bell Media's vice-president of communications, told the Toronto Sun.
"Staff were notified of it in September. The future of the temple has yet to be decided. They're considering all opportunities, including potentially selling it. The real-estate team is trying to determine what the future will be."
The venue, a converted Masonic Temple, has a music history that stretches much further back than its MTV years. In the 1930s the building opened as a ballroom and by the '60s it had become the live concert venue the Rock Pile. Led Zeppelin played their much-bootlegged first-ever Toronto show at the Rock Pile in 1969. Indeed, when Toronto's Yorkville scene became Canada's hippie ground zero in the late-'60s and early-'70s the Rock Pile acted as the unofficial northern border for a vibrant club scene which spawned the likes of Neil Young, The Band, Gordon Lightfoot and Rick James.
In later years the venue became known as the Concert Hall and hosted numerous breakout acts from the '90s alternative and Brit-pop scenes like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Inspiral Carpets.
The venue was also known to host the occasional rave, which were particularly fascinating events for the tripped out young adults who'd navigate the building's many peculiar passageways and secret rooms while staring at the ornate architectural and design flourishes throughout.
The Rolling Stones also took over the building in 1997 to conduct their rehearsals for the Bridges to Babylon tour.
The Masonic Temple was designated a Toronto heritage site back in March 1974, so outright tearing down and rebuilding on the property would likely face some legal and bureaucratic hurdles.