Harold Solomon Kaplan (1895-1973) was a Toronto-based architect who, in partnership with Abraham Sprachman in the firm Kaplan & Sprachman, was well-known for the design of Art deco and Art moderne movie theatres in the 1930s and 1940s and for designing buildings for Jewish communities across Canada from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Kaplan was born 10 Sept. 1895, in Bucharest, Romania. At the age of three, he and his widowed mother, Tillie Hohan, moved to London, England, and in 1902 they moved to Toronto where his mother subsequently married Frank Kaplan. While in his teens, Kaplan spent time in Philadelphia living with an uncle and studying draftsmanship. Upon returning to Toronto, Kaplan attended Toronto Technical School where he took courses in architecture and building construction. He also served an apprenticeship with the architect Henry Simpson. In 1919-1920, Kaplan worked for the firm of Page & Warrington, before establishing Kaplan & Sprachman with Abraham Sprachman in 1922. In 1923, he married Dorothy Spain. They had two daughters, Phyllis (Pepper) and Ruthetta (Reiss).
Kaplan & Sprachman were best known for their more than 300 movie theatre projects completed from the 1920s to the 1960s, designing and renovating theatres across Canada in progressive "modern" styles and using innovative building materials. In 1937, they were awarded the bronze medal in the Sixth Biennial Toronto Exhibition for their interiors to the Eglinton Theatre (400 Eglinton Ave. W.) in Toronto, considered to be the finest example of their Art deco design work.
Over the course of their careers, they designed many synagogues for the Jewish community, such as the Anshei Minsk and Shaarei Shomayim synagogues in Toronto, Beth Israel Synagogue, Edmonton, and Beth Israel Synagogue in Vancouver. They also designed the new Mount Sinai Hospital, the Oakdale Golf & Country Club, the Jewish Home for the Aged (Baycrest), and the Jewish Community Centres of Toronto and Hamilton. Their design for the Oakdale Golf & Country Club was chosen as a Canadian entrant in the Arts Competition of the 14th Olympic Games in London, 1948.
In addition to the projects already mentioned, Kaplan & Sprachman worked on retail stores, warehouses and factories, apartment buildings, and single family residences. Their partnership continued until 1965, when the firm of Kaplan & Sprachman was dissolved as of 30 October 1965. Kaplan continued to work as an architectural consultant for several years after this date. Harold Kaplan died 1 April 1973 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Kaplan was a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, the Ontario Association of Architects, and the Province of Quebec Association of Architects. Kaplan & Sprachman's contribution to the architecture profession was recognized by the Ontario Association of Architects when both Kaplan's and Abraham Sprachman's names were entered on the Honor Roll for prominent members of the profession, established by the association in 1989.
Scope and Content
The fonds documents Kaplan's work as an architect from the 1930s to the 1960s with Kaplan & Sprachman and some of the consulting work he undertook after the dissolution of the partnership in 1965, primarily through architectural drawings and photographs. The preponderance of the materials relates to a series of renovations of Loew's Yonge Street Theatre (189 Yonge St., Toronto, now the Elgin Theatre) and the Uptown Theatre (764 Yonge St., Toronto, just South of Bloor St.) between the 1930s and 1960s, and Kaplan & Sprachman's design of the Primrose Club (Russell Hill Rd at St. Clair Ave., Toronto) in 1958-1959. There is also a large number of photographs by commercial photographers of movie theatres designed or renovated by Kaplan & Sprachman.
Project records are arranged chronologically, with sub-sub-series defined for successive projects at the same site. Some of the materials document project proposals which were not carried out (e.g., proposed renovations of the Winter Garden Theatre).
Other series in the fonds contain business correspondence and newspaper clippings concerning Kaplan & Sprachman projects, and a small amount of personal material such as family photographs, awards Kaplan received over the years for his design work and a colour photocopy of the invitation to Kaplan's stag party in 1923.
Includes: 132 photographs (131 b&w, including 8 negatives; 1 col.), 8 cm of textual records, and 1 bronze medal.
Kaplan, Harold S., 1895-1973
Kaplan & Sprachman (Firm)
Loew's Yonge Street Theatre (Toronto, Ont.)
Primrose Club (Toronto, Ont.)
Uptown Theatre (Toronto, Ont.)
Winter Garden Theatre (Toronto, Ont.)
Some of the blueprints and drawings are torn or water-damaged. All of the architectural drawings are currently stored in rolls.
Accession 2003-7-1 contains additional photographs of buildings designed or renovated by Kaplan & Sprachman, as well as a copy of a published inventory of Kaplan & Sprachman movie theatre projects, compiled by Mandel Sprachman from Kaplan & Sprachman records
Mina Sprachman, widow of Abraham Sprachman, discusses Kaplan & Sprachman in oral history recording AC-142
Kaplan & Sprachman records can also be found in the Mandel Sprachman fonds, at the City of Toronto Archives
5593 photographs, 25 x 20 cm and smaller, and other media
The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto was incorporated in Ontario in March 1917 to coordinate the fundraising activities of Jewish charitable, philanthropic, and social service agencies in Toronto. In 1918, ten separate agencies were funded by the FJPT. By 1937, fourteen agencies were funded. The Great Depression of the 1930s and the development of several newer Jewish aid, education, and medical care organizations created both increased need for resources and growing competition for ever-more scarce dollars. Within a very few years this funding crisis forced a major review of the organization.
During 1936 a series of special meetings of leading individuals were held to examine the income and expenditures of all Toronto Jewish agencies and also to speculate about the need for a new Toronto Jewish "Community Chest" as the sole fund-raising organization for a federation of all Jewish agencies including the FJPT. In 1938, the new United Jewish Welfare Fund was formally constituted. Added to the FJPT's previous list of Toronto client agencies in 1938 were: the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Hebrew National Association, the Jewish Immigrant Aid Association, the Mizrachi Society, the Toronto Free Loan Association, the Geverkshaften, and Old Folks Home, and the United Palestine Appeal, raising the total number of agencies to 22.
When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the UJWF's annual fundraising campaign was combined with the CJC's United Palestine appeal to form a new, combined campaign named the United Jewish Appeal (UJA). In 1967, the UJA name was legally changed to the United Jewish Appeal of Metropolitan Toronto.
In mid-1976, the organization's public name was changed to the Toronto Jewish Congress. Although initially thought of as a merger between the UJWF and the CJC, the actual result was the expansion of the UJWF responsibilities to include local education and welfare services previously shared with the Canadian Jewish Congress, Central Region. The UJWF, however, remained the legal senior entity.
In 1991 the public name was again changed to the Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto and in 1999, to UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. By this date, over 30 beneficiary and affiliated agencies, 49 affiliated schools and five Federation departments were fully or partly funded by the UJA Federation.
In June, 2010, the organization altered its legal structure, with the senior legal entity becoming the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of 25 series: Annual Meetings, Annual Reports, Board of Directors, Constitution Committee, Executive Committee, Officers Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Administration Committee, Social Planning Committee, Committee on Capital Needs and Planning, Central Committee on Scholarships in Aid, Joint Committee of the BJE and UJWF Study on Jewish Education, Nominations Committee, Pension Fund Committee, Coordinating Committee, Special Ad Hoc and Temporary Committees, Annual Campaign, Client Agencies, Joint Committee of the CJC and the UJWF, Committee on Community Organization, Sub-Committee on Construction and Administration of Community Schools, Joint Committee on Fundraising, Personnel Committee, Community Leadership Development Council, and Israel at Fifty Community Celebration.
Over 4500 photographs and a variety of other media are managed within Series 17, Campaign records.
For exact details about the contents of individual series and sub-series, please review their scope and contents notes.
United Jewish Welfare Fund
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto
United Jewish Appeal
Toronto Jewish Congress
Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
For records of the predecessor of the UJWF, see Fonds 66, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto fonds.
Further detailed documentation of the proposed merger between the UJWF and the CJC (creation of the TJC) may be found in Fonds 67, Sub-sub-series 5-5-1, Files 171 and 221.
Further documentation on the United Jewish Welfare Fund may be found within Fonds 9, Series 7, records of the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society.
For further detailed records of a key community leader's involvement with the UJWF see Accession 1982-8-8, the records of Samuel Godfrey, 1943-1972.