11447 Northcote Cinema 212 220 High Street Facade 31
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.