Monthly Archives: July, 2014

Opening Night at the Hurstville Savoy, 1937

Hurstville Savoy, 1938. Image courtesy State Library NSW

Hurstville Savoy, 1937. Image courtesy State Library NSW

In preparation for a pretty major article on the Kogarah Mecca cinema, much of the research conjured up stories of Hurstville’s own Mecca. In their later years, both theatres shared an owner who named them both Mecca for the sake of uniformity, and that’s all I’d care to say about that particular topic. For decades, the Savoy was the jewel of Ormonde Parade, even after they built the Supa Centre in front of it. Nice going, fellas.

Opening night at the Savoy, 1937. Image courtesy State Library NSW

Opening night at the Savoy, 1937. Just think: each person is holding their own copy of this booklet. Image courtesy State Library NSW

In the beginning, however, the Hurstville Savoy was a triumph of Art Deco design, a massive artistic improvement over the rather pedestrian theatres that had entertained the suburb in years prior. The more I learned, the more shocked I was that such a structure ever existed in Hurstville as I know it today. Everything about the place seemed to radiate a sense of silver-screen Hollywood elegance, and nowhere was this more evident than the evening’s handsomely designed souvenir booklet.

Demolished in 1994, nothing remains of the theatre today, so this brochure is as close as we can get to the Savoy experience short of generating 1.21 gigawatts. Be amazed, and just keep telling yourself: it came from that Hurstville.

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Protestant Hall/BWS – Taree, NSW

Orange Lodges and Protestant Halls – these were the two staples of any Australian country town in the mid 1800s. If, like Taree, you were caught with your pants down as late as the 1870s, well, you’d be getting to laying that foundation stone quick smart, and you’d better make sure you do it in the presence of a large number of people:

SMH, August 11 1876

SMH, August 11 1876

Protestant Halls have all kinds of amazing uses, not least of which is playing host to an extensive and exuberant round of preaching:

The Sydney Mail, June 13 1896

The Sydney Mail, June 13 1896

Why Reverend McIntyre, what a lovely sermon about the evils of alcohol! In most country towns, the Protestant Hall was the hub around which the town grew. Well, you know, aside from the pub. And speaking of which, I’ve seen the future and it will be:

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There’s something extremely sacrilegious about this, isn’t there? I don’t think it stands for Beer, Wine and the Holy Spirit, either.

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Despite the incongruous, blasphemous tenancy, the building is still damn photogenic. Wha? Oh no, I meant darn!