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
Accession consists of records documenting Rolf Lederer's involvement with JIAS, the Canadian Jewish Congress's Chaplaincy Services Committee, the Toronto Jewish Congress Ontario Region Archives Committee, SAJAC, and the Jewish Genealogical Society. JIAS records make up the bulk of the accession and include; statistical reports; meeting notices; agendas and minutes for various committees, such as the Executive Committee, Immigrant Case Committee, Integration Committee and the Board of Directors; newsclippings, correspondence, programmes, reports, JIAS Information bulletins, and JIAS News newsletters.
Chaplaincy records include meeting notices, agendas and minutes, bulletins, invitations, brochures, and general correspondence. JGS records include one photograph of a plaque awarded to the agency and correspondence regarding its cemetery project. Archives Committee records include event invitations, correspondence, and documents related to the Sense of Spadina tour. Finally, accession also consists of SAJAC News publications (1989), correspondence with the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists and a Congregation B'nai Torah dedication banquet programme (1984).
The records were in the possession of Rolf Lederer until he donated them to the OJA on June 22, 2011.
Dr. Rolf Lederer was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1934. His family immigrated to South Africa in 1936 and Rolf remained there until 1961, earning his medical degree from Cape Town University. After completing his psychiatric training in Edinburgh and Boston, Rolf settled in Toronto in 1968. There he set up private practice as a General Psychiatrist.
After moving to Toronto, Rolf became actively involved in the Jewish community and served on a number of committees. He was on both the local and national board of directors of the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS) as well as a number of JIAS sub-committees, including the South African Jewish Association of Canada (SAJAC), the Local Case File Committee and the Management Committee.
From 1985 to 1988 Rolf was chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress’s (CJC) Chaplaincy Services Committee. He was also a member of other CJC committees; including, the Jewish Cultural Council and the Joint Adult Education Committee. In addition, Rolf co-founded the Jewish Genealogical Society (JGS) in 1985 and served as the society’s president from 1987 to 1991. Finally, he was an active member of B’nai Torah Congregation, serving as secretary and first vice-president in the early 1980s
Accession consists of two editions of Hakol bulletin published by Beth Tikvah and dated September/October 2011 and November/December 2011. Contents of the bulletins are messages from the Rabbi and President, Sisterhood and Men's Club, activities, programs, donations, bereavements, as well as paid advertisements. Inserted in the November/December edition is a letter from Maurice Kulik, President, addressed to the members, informing them of proposed amendments to their constitution for consideration at the AGM. Also included is a flyer promoting their Pre-Hanukkah Choral concert on December 11, 2011.
Accession consists of correspondence to and from Stephen Speisman, former Director of the Ontario Jewish Archives. Also included is a report on the collection, conservation and utilization of the historical records of the Canadian Jewish community prepared by John Andreassen of the Records Management Company of Canada (1969), a condition report for the Knesseth Israel Synagogue (1986), an invitation to the opening of the archives in the new Lipa Green building (1984), and an invitation to the gala opening and an exhibit booklet from the Coat of Many Colours (1990).
Accession consists of material documenting Cyrel Troster's involvement with various Jewish committees and organizations. Included are: transcripts of oral histories with prominent Jewish Torontonians that were conducted as part of an oral history project in 1973; correspondence between Cyrel Troster and interviewees; index cards listing the dates of the oral history interviews; promotional materials for Jewish arts festivals; public proposal document for the new Shaarei Shomayim Synagogue; and documents and records from Cyrel's involvement in various Jewish organizations. Also included are Local Initiatives Program application forms (1973), lists of presidents of various Jewish organizations, a map of the Jewish York Region (1999), issues of Exodus Magazine in both English and Russian from May 2018, and two issues of the Wilson Heights High School yearbook The Torch (1962-63).
The six tape cassettes are as follows: Cantor Paul Kowarsky Live in Concert (no date); Highlights from the 1994 Toronto Jewish Storytelling Festival; interview with Esther Volpe (two cassette tapes); interview with Samuel Harris; and one cassette marked "Dov Noy copy of Library tape" (Dov Noy was a Jewish folklorist).
The accession contains transcripts for the following interviewees: Mrs. Arbus, David Biderman, Benjamin Brown, Benjamin Sherman, Arthur Cohen, Mrs. Draimin, Max Federman, Morris Flicht, Joshua Gershman, Samuel Harris, Ben Heisel, Rose Heisel, Mr. Lean, Mary Levy, Harry Pullan, J. B. Salsberg, Yekil Silverman, A. S. Socol, Nathan Strauss, Esther Volpe, and Annie Zeidman.
The accession contains records related to Cyrel's involvement in the following committees and organizations: Committee for Yiddish (1997-2004); Cultural Services and Planning Committee (1990-2005), Jewish Public Library (2005); Canadian Jewish Congress, Orthodox Division (1982-1984); Holocaust Centre (1979-2004); Limmud (2000); Ontario Jewish Archives (1973-2004); Jewish Theatre (1996-2002); Jewish Arts Council (2000-2004); Jewish Toronto Tomorrow (1994-2004); Ashkenaz (1997-2004); UJA Federation (1978, 1984, 1990-2004).
Credit to be given to Susan Cohen and Cyrel Troster—coordinators of the Local Initiatives Project project in 1973—and to interviewer(s) and transcribers when using tapes or transcribed interviews.
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
RELATED MATERIAL NOTE: See accession 2017-4-6 for related sound recordings. Some may be duplicates.