When venerable live music venue Hugh’s Room closed its west-end location, the city lost an important part of its music city DNA. Now, there is good news as Hugh’s Room Live is announcing that it has reached an agreement with Marina Stefanovic to acquire a heritage church building designed by E.J. Lennox located at 296 Broadview Ave. thus ending a two-year search for a new home.
“When we closed our doors at our old Dundas Street West location, we knew that the only way music venues can survive in Toronto’s real estate market is to control our future by owning our own home,” said Brian Iler, chair of Hugh’s Room Live. “The other critical piece in this is our approval as a registered charity. It means we are eligible for essential government grants and can provide donors with a charitable receipt. We will need the support of music lovers in Toronto and beyond to ensure this happens.”
Last month, the Toronto city council approved a loan guarantee that helped Hugh’s Room Live secure the necessary funding to purchase the building. Money for the down-payment was raised through bonds and gifts.
Hugh’s Room opened on Dundas Street West in Roncesvalles back in 2001. The venue offered folk music as well as dining in a comfortable atmosphere. The venue has hosted a slew of local and international artists including the likes of Pete Seeger, Serena Ryder, and Sylvia Tyson to name a few. The venue closed in 2020 over a high-priced lease.
The church at 296 Broadview Ave. first opened in 1894 as the Broadview Avenue Congregational Church. The building designed by notable architect E.J. Lennox is said to combine neo-gothic style with the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement.
According to Hugh’s Room Live, the new space allows for a performance area but will also allow it to implement its broader vision as a community music centre.
“The main floor will easily accommodate the listening room environment that people have come to expect from us,” said Jim Thomas, alternate chair. “The downstairs will allow us to build classrooms, meeting rooms, and a music studio as well as an ample kitchen and washrooms.”
According to Hugh’s Room Live, the board and volunteers need to raise an additional $2.2 million before closing on June 30. A fundraising campaign is underway. Donors can contribute at Canada Helps or transfer money to firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a tax receipt.
“We are very hopeful we will receive grant funding from Canadian Heritage’s Cultural Spaces program,” said Thomas. “That would really give us some breathing room.”