The FLATO Academy Theatre was built in the spring of 1892. Designed by architect W. Blackwell of Peterborough, two citizens of the town, R. J. Matchett and Fred Knowlton, spearheaded its building.
When the theatre doors opened in 1893, it was billed as the most technically perfect theatre in Canada. With seating for 900 people, there was one balcony and one dress circle, with VIP boxes on either side of the stage. The stage measured 38 by 44 feet, and the proscenium height was 28 feet. A fly gallery was 22 feet above the stage and a rigging gallery reached 48 feet.
At that time, there were 3 furnaces in the building, which needed to be fed coal constantly. This required a couple to live in the theatre on the third floor, in an apartment. According to legend, it is said that one day, the lady of this couple rushed down from the third floor stairs and fell and sadly, died. It is said to be her spirit that inhabits the theatre. To this day, “Mary”, as she has affectionately been named, is a friendly but mischievous “ghost” who mysteriously moves things, then puts them back, lowers the lights or opens and closes doors. Staff and patrons alike often have their own “Mary” story to share.
It was in this theatre that Marie Dressler made her first stage appearance at the age of 5, in an amateur play organized by her mother. As part of the vaudeville circuit in the early 1900s, the Academy hosted a young Sammy Davis Jr. and the Marx Brothers as well.
2 Lindsay Street South, Lindsay, Ontario K9V 2L6, Canada