Friday, November 11, 2011

The Empire Picture Theatre

The ex Empire theatre
The Empire Picture Theatre building at 303 Cleveland Street, Redfern, is historically significant as it illustrates the changing nature of leisure, entertainment and commerce in the inner city over the course of the 20th century. It was built as the Palace Skating Rink in 1890 and by 1895 was a Swimming Baths.

In 1905 Petchell F and Co, boot manufacturers were in residence and in 1917 the Eclipse Printing Company called it home. It became the Empire Picture Theatre in 1930 and in 1933 was owned by George Harold Towart of Enfield, Showman. In 1961 it was known as 'The Stage Club Limited'.

Empire Picture Theatre gutted!

Today nothing is left inside and the space has been gutted and converted into commercial office space.

Facade detail

Facade detail

The Cleveland street facade has been modified (I would guess by George Towart?) into a stylised, post-modern interpretation of Art Deco motifs giving it a monumental character. It had apparently been "colourfully painted" however today it is quite muted. The rear of the building (in James street) still has the imposing original facade in the Federation Free Style Classical style.

Stage Club

Original main entrance

Original main entrance

View of the stage

Main stage

Source City of Sydney Heritage Listings

Kings Theatre - Clovelly

Kings Theatre
The Clovelly RSL and Air Force Club at 263-269 Clovelly Road, Clovelly, was built in 1939 and was formally known as the Kings Theatre.

The former Kings Theatre is a nice example an Art Deco style theatre of the interwar years. The strong vertical element on the facade is typical of many theatres of the period.

Photographs of the Kings Theatre are avaiable through collections in the NSW library if required.

Front facade

Source Sydney Heritage Listings

Burland Community Hall

Burland community hall
One Newtown landmark which has undergone many changes during the 20th century is the site of the former Burland Community Hall at 222 King St Newtown. In the early 1900s the site was occupied by the original Hub Theatre.

From the mid-1900s it was occupied by an Art Deco-style cinema operated by the Hoyts cinema chain. In the mid-1960s the cinema was converted into a community hall and it was renamed Burland Community Hall in 1965.

Renamed Burland Community Hall

For many years it was the venue for community events such as dances, concerts, film screenings, meetings, parties, wedding receptions and a community market. From 1986 to 1995 the upper floor of the hall was the Newtown branch of the City of Sydney library network.

After the library moved to new premises Burland Community Hall was redeveloped into offices and retail premises.

Source Newtown Suburb Guide

Chateau Blanc

Chateau Blanc
Chateau Blanc is an old Art Deco theatre located at 57-61 South Street in Granville. It was rebuilt as the Granville Hoyts Castle cinema in 1947.

It was designed by Cowper, Murphy & Associates and built by A.W. Edwards. Both the Castle cinema and the Crest Cinema in Blaxcell Street were built in the late 1940s utilising a Quonset design emerging from wartime construction methods.

The new cinema opened 26 Dec. 1947 and closed Oct 1959. It was later used as a supermarket and a reception centre. All that is left today is the facade. Extensive additions have been made to make it into a large function centre known as the Grande Royale.

- Sydney Heritage Listings

- Parramatta Cinema History website

The Crest Cinema

Crest cinema
The Crest Theatre, located at 157 Blaxcell Street Granville, opened at Easter, 27th March 1948. It was designed by the architectural firm Cowper, Murphy and Associates in the Post Modern style. It had an imposing corner entrance that had a slender fin-tower feature. Inside the auditorium, the seating was on a stadium plan with a raised stepped section at the rear instead of an overhanging balcony.

It was operated by the Hoyts Theatres chain for its entire cinematic life. In it last years it was only open one day a week on a Saturday. The final closing date was Saturday 24th August 1963.

After closing as a cinema, it was used as a bingo hall. The building is currently used as a public hall.

It is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Collaroy Cinema

Collaroy cinema
The Collaroy Cinema is located at 1097 Pittwater Road in Collaroy. It is a rare surviving example of an interwar Art Deco cinema built in 1938 to a design by J.C. Rennie Bartle.

The builder was C.A. Bullivant.

The Collaroy Cinema was built for Casmi Theatres Pty Ltd who wanted "a modern theatre with all the features...considered essential..."

They obviously achieved their goal leaving future generations with such a fine example of a classic Art Deco theatre.

It was originally called the "De Luxe Theatre".

Source - Sydney Heritage Listings

The Hayden Orpheum

The Hayden Orpheum
The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace at 380 Military Road in Cremorne is the jewel in the crown of surviving Art Deco cinemas in Australia. Listed in the RAIA Register of Significant 20th Century Buildings the theatre was built in 1935 and designed by G N Kenworthy and built by by Angelo Virgona.

In December 1986, Mike Walsh bought the historic Cremorne Orpheum under his company Hayden Theatre Pty. Ltd, initially spending $2.5 million on its restoration. It was reopened in December 1987. The Orpheum's interior replicates all the original art-deco fittings, color schemes, lighting and design. The outstanding namesake "Orpheum" auditorium has a Wurlitzer pipe organ that raises and lowers through a trapdoor in front of the screen.

Front entrance

Front entrance

The candy bar

Foyer ceiling light detail

Another style of ceiling light

Art Deco style wall mirror

View up stairs to theatres

Metro Theatre

The Metro theate
The Metro building is located at 28 Orwell Street in Potts Point and was designed by Bruce Dellit in 1939 and was previously known as The Minerva Theatre.

In the 1960s it was the venue for the groundbreaking musical "Hair". For a time in the 1970s it was a supermarket. It has been restored and is the headquarters of Kennedy Miller, makers of the films "Mad Max" and "Babe".

Facade detail

View from the west

Source Sydney Heritage Listings

Orion Centre

Orion centre
The Orion Center at 153-155 Beamish Street in Campsie opened on 7th March 1936 as the Orion Theatre. Named after the ship Orion it comprised 999 seats and was the most highly regarded cinema in Campsie for many years. The Orion was closed in 1959 until Canterbury City Council decided to refurbish it as a community hall in the 1980s.

The Wurlitzer organ from the Capitol Theatre was restored and installed in the Orion which was re-opened in 1988.

It is currently a Function Centre which was looking very tired in 2009 when the photo on the right was taken. I noticed the building has been repainted recently and it has made a world of difference both to the building and the streetscape of Campsie.

Facade detail

Orion facade detail

A new coat of paint!

The Wurlitzer organ in the Capitol Theatre

This photograph, courtesy of B Tooker and the City of Canterbury Local History Photograph Collection, shows organist Ian Davies seated at the Wurlitzer organ in the Capitol Theatre.

Canterbury City Council purchased the Wurlitzer Organ from T.O.S.A. (NSW Division), who had purchased it 1972 from Greater Union when the theatre company decided not to renew their lease on the Capitol. Members of T.O.S.A. then stored its many parts in their homes for over eleven years before it was purchased by Canterbury City Council in 1983. Restoration work on the organ was carried out by members of T.O.S.A. with organ builder, John Parker, employed from Auckland in New Zealand to head the project.

Ian was the last person to play the organ in the Capitol Theatre and, many years later, the first to play it after its installation in the Orion Centre.

Source Canterbury Heritage Listings

The Randwick Ritz

The Ritz cinema
Built in 1937 the Ritz Theatre at 43-47 St Pauls Road in Randwick is the last known surviving theatre designed by Arron Bolot. It is listed in the RAIA Registry of Significant 20th Century buildings. It is an outstanding example of the interwar Art Deco style.

The exterior has been modified to include an outdoor area above the awning. Pictures of the original facade can be found on the Heritage Council of NSW link below.

It was in the theatre building era of the late 1930s that Aaron Bolot came to be more involved in cinemas. In 1936 he produced the plans for the very moderne Ritz Theatre at Goulburn, NSW, an outstanding example of its genre, clearly showing the influence of Griffin & Dellit. That same year he produced the designs for the Astra at Wyong.

By 1937 he designed the Randwick Ritz similar to the Ritz Goulburn and the large and decorative Art Deco Regal Theatre at Gosford, featuring a prominent facade of stylish blocks and curves in the then streamlined moderne style. The Regal was demolished in 1978.

Facade detail

Facade detail

The Randwick Ritz first floor lounge bar

The first floor lounge bar


Randwick Heritage Listings

Heritage Council of NSW

Aaron Bolot’s contribution to cinema in Australia

The Roseville Cinema

Roseville cinema
The Roseville Cinema at 112 Pacific Highway in Roseville was originally a hall and community centre, the building has been both a Congregational church and a preparatory school.

Its transformation into a cinema began when it became Traynor's Picture Palace in 1919.

The Roseville Cinema then became a full-scale cinema in 1936 under the ownership of DB O'Connor and in 1974 a top-rate suburban cinema under the ownership of Hans van Pinxteren. It was renovated and extended to accommodate two screens in 1995.

Source Roseville (Zeny Edwards)

Valhalla Cinema

Valhalla cinema
The Valhalla Cinema at 1660 Glebe Point Road in Glebe is a National Trust protected building which previously was also known as the Astor Theatre. The Valhalla Cinema is the only surviving operating theatre in the Sydney Metropolitan Area designed by the renowned theatre architects Kaberry and Chard. It is a rare and significant example of a 1930s suburban cinema progressively and faithfully refurbished in the 1930s Modern style.

Source glebenet - History of Glebe

Chelsea Theatre

Chelsea theatre
The Chelsea was located at 285 Homer Street in Earlwood and it first opened its doors on Wednesday the 16th of October 1940 with a seating capacity for 824 people.

It was listed for closure in 1958 along with its sister theatre up the road, The Mayfair. From 1975 to 1977 it came under the ownership of well known Greek personality Mr. Harry Michaels, however Harry chose to then show English speaking films and it was during this period that, amongst other things, it was used by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to launch a campaign speech.

Around 1978 it began its rebirth as a retailing venture. It became known as Martin Jackson Furniture and Bedding, later Peter Hedges Furniture, both of which traded there for a number of years.

Eventually from 1992 to the present time it is enjoying the residency of "Earlwood Wines" which is a very popular Mediterranean Food and Boutique Wine outlet.

Historical photo (courtesy Wikipedia)

Source - Australia, the photographs

Enmore Theatre

Enmore theatre
The Enmore Theatre located at 118-132 Enmore Road in Enmore was originally built in 1908 by the Szarka brothers and opened to the public as a photo-play theatre in 1912. Major improvements were done in 1920 both inside and out.

Hoyts purchased the building in 1936 from the Szarka brothers and did extensive modifications to the building and it emerged as a "large Art Deco showpalace".

The Enmore Theatre is classified by the National Trust and is listed in the Historic Buildings Register of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Facade detail

- Sydney Heritage Listings
- Century Venues information

Malachi Gilmore Hall

Malachi Gilmore hall
The Malachi Gilmore Hall in Oberon Street in Oberon is a fine art deco building that was designed by Italian architect Virgil Cizzio (who changed his surname to Renshaw) and was opened in 1937.

It was known as the Magna Theatre. A striking feature of the hall is the use of glass bricks.

It was built on land donated to the Catholic church in memory of Malachi Gilmore who had come to Oberon in 1872 and owned land in Oberon and the Duckmaloi area. It was originally built as a dance hall cinema, seating 310 people but has also been a cabaret venue, a skating rink and is currently a wool store.

The building was listed on the State Heritage Register in November 2003 and is also listed in the RAIA Register of significant 20th Century Buildings.

Glass brick wall of the building

Glass brick wall

First storey detail

first storey detail

- Sources;

- Oberon history

Theatre Royal - Newcastle

Theatre Royal Newcastle
The Theatre Royal at 667-669 Hunter Street in Newcastle is one of the few remaining 1930s cinemas in the Art Deco / Moderne style with the original interior features surviving in relatively good condition.

The Theatre Royal has many key features and fixtures that exemplify the Art Deco / Moderne style and era, in particular its interior wall detailing and staircase railings. These can be appreciated in the photos below of the interior of the theatre.

The unique Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal is also the only remaining cinema in Australia designed by Charles Bohringer, a well-known practitioner of the Art Deco style. It was redesigned and rebuilt by Bohringer in the classic Art Deco style and re-opened to the public in 1939.

Theatre Royal wall treatmentOriginal wall treatment still survives

Art Deco stair railingOriginal stair railing

The two photos (above) courtesy

- Theatre Royal sources - NSW Heritage Listing.

Penthouse Cinema, Wellington

Penthouse cinema
The Penthouse cinema is a gem of a building is located in the New Zealand city of Wellington at 205 Ohiro Road, Brooklyn and is a good example of a classic Art Deco style theatre from the 1930's.

Constructed for the Ranish family the cinema opened its doors on 15th June 1939 as the Vogue Theatre. The Ranish family ran the cinema until 1951, when the Vogue Company Limited took over. The Vogue Company turned the cinema into a television studio where TV commercials were shot for many years.

Renamed the Penthouse

The building was renamed the Penthouse Cinema when it was bought by Merv and Carol Kisby in 1975. Since then additional screens have been added, as well as refurbishment of the interior in keeping with its original style. The classic Art Deco style has been recreated in the Penthouse foyer where, in particular, the staircase bannister is quite simple but exudes the charm of the style.

Penthouse cinema main facadeThe Penthouse cinema main facade

Main foyerView of the foyer

- Source for Penthouse information

- Wikipedia - Brooklyn

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Art Deco Building is Funeral Home

R H Creighton funeral home
This Art Deco building is used as a funeral home and is located at 37 Mann Street in Gosford. Funeral Directors R. H. Creighton built the Art Deco building in 1938. The existing building is mainly of cement-rendered brick, with foundations of local sandstone.

Being constructed on a steep site the building diminishes quickly from the front facade. There are some interesting windows along this side of the building which sit on a prominant sandstone retaining wall which blends well with the rest of the building.

The Creighton family has had associations with the Gosford district going back as far as 1844. Originally primarily employed as carpenters, the Creighton clan apparently moved into the undertaking business in the 1880s. R.H. Creighton had undertakers' premises in several locations around Gosford before constructing the Art Deco building on this site.

Building main facade

Building main facade

More Art Deco information can be found on the DecoWorks Pty Ltd website.

Commonwealth Bank Earlwood

Commonwealth Bank Earlwood
The Commonwealth Bank Earlwood was located at 212 Homer Street in Earlwood. This two storey brick and cement building (with a Manager’s Residence on the first floor) was constructed by H W Thompson Ltd of Alexandria at a cost of £3,730 and was completed in July 1934.

It was described in the Canterbury Heritage Study (circa 1988) as "... a massive rendered masonry bank building. Austere fa├žade in the Egyptian manner punctuated by a high entrance foyer flanked by massive columns bearing Egyptian capitals".

In 1973 the Earlwood branch was moved to new premises at 352 Homer street and the old branch building closed. It was sold the same year to Brambles Brinks. It currently the home to Acropolis Funeral Services.

Column capital detail

Column capital detail

Commonwealth Bank Earlwood in 1936

Commonwealth Bank Earlwood in 1936

Source - Commonwealth Bank Archives Department.

More Art Deco information can be found on the DecoWorks Pty Ltd website.

Commonwealth Bank Cronulla

Commonwealth Bank Cronulla
The Commonwealth Bank Cronulla is on a site at 70 Cronulla Street in Cronulla that was previously a butcher shop. It was purchased by the Commonwealth Bank in December 1936. The butcher shop was demolished and an attractive, double storey branch building in the familiar Art Deco Commonwealth Bank style of the time was constructed by Hogden Bros of Enmore.

Banking operations commenced from the new premises in July 1938.

Main entrance facade

Main entrance facade

Facade detail

Facade detail

Detail of window security bars

Detail of window security bars

A clock, with a calendar incorporated beneath the clock face, was installed above the branch entrance in January 1956. Major renovations in 1967 saw the removal of the clock. In 1989 the facade was refurbished to blend in sympathetically with the overall colour scheme and atmosphere of the Cronulla Centre.

Cronulla takes its name from the Aboriginal word "Kurranulla", meaning "the place of pink shells" so it's argueable that this influenced the current colour scheme.

Clock on the bank in 1956

Clock on bank in 1956

The Commonwealth Bank in 1967

The Commonwealth Bank in 1967

Source - Commonwealth Bank Archives Department

More Art Deco information can be found on the DecoWorks Pty Ltd website.