Statement of Significance
What is significant?
The Former Northcote Theatre at 212 - 220 High Street, Northcote is a two-storey rendered brick purpose-built picture theatre building designed and constructed in 1911-12.
The Northcote Theatre Company was registered in December 1911, with Amalgamated Pictures Ltd as the principal shareholder. The cinema was opened in 1912 by the Mayor of Northcote, Councillor H.E. Bastings in front of a crowded auditorium. Described by The Argus as a handsome structure, it was designed by Twentyman & Askew and F.G. Richardson, and constructed for a cost of £10,000. In the mid-1930s, seating on the dress circle was widened and in 1953 the central arch and balcony, which opened onto the dress circle, was enclosed. It was operational as a cinema until 1960, after which time it has been used as a function centre.
The Former Theatre is a rare, substantially intact example of an early purpose-built theatre in Victoria. It has a small, simple foyer; large, box-like auditorium with a barrel vault ceiling, flat floor and raised stage that could be used for a variety of functions; an area of balcony seating; windows making it suitable for use for daytime functions; and perfunctory, but intact, interior embellishment. The 'attractive' auditorium seated 1500 patrons on two levels and is decorated with pilasters and wreaths. The stage and fly-tower provided for live theatre productions, though the building's main use was for film.
Externally, the theatre's simple Edwardian Baroque style decoration is substantially intact. The Former Theatre has a cantilevered awning, which replaced the original verandah, and four shops at entrance level. The facade features a balustraded parapet, rustication at first floor level and the words 'Northcote Theatre' embossed above the windows. The three openings of the original dress circle balcony are now enclosed.
How is it significant?
The Former Northcote Theatre is of historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Former Northcote Theatre is of historical significance to the State of Victoria as the least changed of the earliest remaining examples of purpose-built picture theatres in Victoria. The first purpose-built picture theatres were erected in Victoria from around 1910. The substantially intact Former Northcote Theatre is an important illustration of the characteristics of that phase of picture theatre development in Victoria.
The Former Northcote Theatre is historically significant as an important example of a suburban cinema and of the emergence of cinemas in working class suburbs in the 1910s. It is representative of a significant phase in the development of Victoria's cultural and cinema history.
The Former Northcote Theatre is historically significant for its unusually intact interior, representative of early purpose-built picture theatres. It displays the typical features of picture theatres from this era including: a small, simple foyer; large, box-like auditorium with a barrel vaulted ceiling, flat floor and raised stage that could be used for a variety of functions; an area of balcony seating; windows making it suitable for use for daytime functions. The high level of intactness of the place allows its previous purpose as a theatre to be easily comprehended.
FORMER NORTHCOTE THEATRE - Plaque Citation
This early purpose-built theatre of 1912 demonstrates the expansion of cinema in the suburbs from 1910 and the characteristics of early picture theatre designs, including a small foyer and a large auditorium with flat floor.
FORMER NORTHCOTE THEATRE - Permit ExemptionsGeneral Conditions: 1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object. General Conditions: 2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and Heritage Victoria shall be notified as soon as possible. Note: All archaeological places have the potential to contain significant sub-surface artefacts and other remains. In most cases it will be necessary to obtain approval from the Executive Director, Heritage Victoria before the undertaking any works that have a significant sub-surface component. General Conditions: 3. If there is a conservation policy and plan endorsed by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it. Note: The existence of a Conservation Management Plan or a Heritage Action Plan endorsed by the Executive Director, Heritage Victoria provides guidance for the management of the heritage values associated with the site. It may not be necessary to obtain a heritage permit for certain works specified in the management plan. General Conditions: 4. Nothing in this determination prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions. General Conditions: 5. Nothing in this determination exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authorities where applicable. Minor Works : Note: Any Minor Works that in the opinion of the Executive Director will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the place may be exempt from the permit requirements of the Heritage Act. A person proposing to undertake minor works must submit a proposal to the Executive Director. If the Executive Director is satisfied that the proposed works will not adversely affect the heritage values of the site, the applicant may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a heritage permit. If an applicant is uncertain whether a heritage permit is required, it is recommended that the permits co-ordinator be contacted.
Minor repairs and maintenance.
Removal of extraneous items such as air conditioners, pipe work, ducting, wiring, antennae, aerials etc, and making good.
Installation and repairing of damp proofing by either injection method or grout pocket method.
Installation or removal of external fixtures and fittings such as, hot water services and taps.
Painting of previously painted walls and ceilings in appropriate heritage colour schemes, provided that preparation or painting does not remove evidence of any original paint or other decorative scheme.
Installation, removal or replacement of carpets and/or flexible floor coverings.
Installation, removal or replacement of screens or curtains, curtain tracks, rods and blinds, other than where structural alterations are required.
Installation, removal or replacement of hooks, nails and other devices for the hanging of mirrors, paintings and other wall mounted art works.
Removal or replacement of non-original door and window furniture including, hinges, locks, knobsets and sash lifts.
Installation, removal or replacement of ducted, hydronic or concealed radiant type heating provided that the installation does not damage existing skirtings and architraves and that the central plant is concealed.
Installation, removal or replacement of electric clocks, public address systems, detectors, alarms, emergency lights, exit signs, luminaires and the like on plaster surfaces.
Installation, removal or replacement of bulk insulation in the roof space.
Installation of plant within the roof space, providing that it does not impact on the external appearance of the building or involve structural changes.
Installation of new fire hydrant services including sprinklers, fire doors and elements affixed to plaster surfaces.
Installation, removal or replacement of electrical wiring.
FORMER NORTHCOTE THEATRE - Permit Exemption Policy
The purpose of the permit exemptions is to allow works that do not impact on the significance of the place to occur without the need for a heritage permit. Routine maintenance and repair work based on the replacement of like with like are permit exempt. In carrying out repair works, original fabric should be conserved and retained as much as possible.
The cultural heritage significance of the Former Northcote Theatre is as the earliest remaining, largely extant, example of a purpose-built picture theatre in Victoria.
Important elements include:
. Internally - the foyer; large, box-like auditorium with a barrel vaulted ceiling, flat floor and raised stage ,the balcony seating area including remnant furnishings; the windows; and intact, interior decoration.
. Externally - the fly-tower, four shops at entrance level, simple Edwardian Baroque style decoration including a balustraded parapet, rustication at first floor level and 'Northcote Theatre' embossed above the windows.
Any alterations which impact on the significance of the exterior and the interior are subject to permit applications.
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TERRACE HOUSESVictorian Heritage Register H1774
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