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.
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.
In the second such instance, Civic Video has taken up residence in a former cinema. This time, the Paramount Theatre of South Hurstville continues to provide movies to the public through the video chain. Let’s take a closer look.
The Paramount was built in 1934, joining a sister cinema at Mortdale (since demolished) and only four other picture theatres in the Kogarah/Hurstville region: the Odeon at Carlton, the Oatley Radio, the Hurstville Savoy and the Kogarah Victory being the others. It’s a pretty damn big building, with a seating capacity of 1,100 when it was built. In 1950, that old vaudeville villain Hoyts (boo, hiss) bought the theatre and renamed it the Hoyts. Sounds much better too, doesn’t it? Hoyts closed the theatre in 1959 (I’m growing more and more convinced there was some kind of Hoyts conspiracy to buy up the suburban cinemas in order to get people to head into the city). Hoyts made sure that a covenant in the sales contract ensured the building could never again be used as a cinema.
Since 1959 it’s been used as a recreation centre, a supermarket and a giant Civic. In the last ten years as video shops have declined, Civic has cut down on its floorspace, sharing with a Subway, a newsagent, a Curves gym and some kind of computer shop out the back. Cramming more into less space isn’t just a residential thing anymore.
CRUSTY UPDATE: Here’s a look at the Paramount in its heyday courtesy of reader Carmen. Thanks!
On the Hume Highway, Enfield stands this bright orange eyecatcher. According to Strathfield Heritage, the Savoy opened as the Enfield Cinema in 1927, but was redesigned in Art Deco style in 1938.
At this point it was renamed the Savoy, and reopened to the public. In 1944 it was bought by Hoyts, but was closed as a cinema in 1960. The last film shown was Some Like It Hot.
Julian Tertini was working as a public servant in the mid-1970s when he quit his job and started a furniture company with no prior business experience. That company was Whitewood Warehouse. By 2012, the Savoy has stood as the cartoon bear-sporting Whitewood Warehouse longer than it did as a cinema.
Tertini went on to start both Fantastic and Freedom Furniture, and is one of Australia’s richest people. The Savoy/Whitewood building is now home to Poliak Building Supplies. The foyer is a showroom for ovens and hot water systems, because some still like it hot.
QUALITY UPDATE: Thanks to reader Phil, Past/Lives can now reveal the hitherto unknown second phase of this building’s life! After the cinema’s 1960 closure, it began its long life as a furniture warehouse under the name of Quality House. Now there’s a name you can trust: