Now that I know, I can’t not see it, but I didn’t realise until someone pointed it out, that the computer shop at 128 Hampshire Road (opposite Ancheto Cafe) used to be a cinema.
The Sunshine Picture Theatre opened on 21 March 1925 and received a write-up near it’s advertisement in that day’s issue of the Sunshine Advocate newspaper:
“The new theatre presents internally a very attractive appearance, and is really one of the most commodious and elegant picture theatres in or adjacent to the city. It may well be called the ‘ Capitol ‘ of Sunshine. The whole of the interior is finished in white, and presents a beautifully finished appearance. The proscenium is panelled out in white, with a picture frame around the stage opening. The seating accommodation is excellent, there being over 800 individual arm-chair seats on gilded cast-iron standards with 7-ply backs and serpentine seats. The high-priced seats at the back are all upholstered. The whole of the seating accornmodation cost about £900, and the flooring is on an incline, the back seats being two feet higher than those in the front, so that every seat has a clear view of the stage. The company has purchased the rights to the films of the leading companies, and purpose showing every evening until further notice”. [Read the full article here]
The Brimbank City Council Post-contact Cultural Heritage Study (conducted in 1999-2000) provides an overview of the life of the theatre. It notes that the cinema operated profitably into the 1960s, but then suffered a decline in the ’70s, eventually closing and being converted to a furniture store in around 1975. In 2000 it was being used as offices by the Smith Family and now, of course, as a computer shop.
The study also notes that “Much of the original art deco decoration has been removed, both inside and out. The conversion to commercial use has meant the foyer has been stripped and the entrance remodelled in modern glazing.” I went inside and had a look last weekend – aside from some remaining moulding in the middle of the ceiling and beautifully curved walls behind the counter, there wasn’t much to see. It is fitted out like a computer shop. However, the part customers see must be only 1/10th of the site. I wonder if there are any original features retained beyond the foyer…?
I’m particulary interested in this building in light of AFLFootyMath‘s comments on the blog . They saw the refurbishment of the Sun Theatre as a significant part of the gentrification of Yarraville and I wondered if Sunshine residents would seek the same in future years for this former cinema.
Whilst the Brimbank City Council Heritage Study above refers to a heritage overlay (HO127), the Brimbank Planning Scheme’s schedule (22/11/2012) to that overlay includes the following ‘restrictions’:
- External Paint Controls Apply? No
- Internal Alteration Controls Apply? No
- Tree Controls Apply? No
- Outbuildings or fences which are not exempt under Clause 43.01-4? No
- Included on the Victorian Heritage Register under the Heritage Act 1995? No
- Prohibited uses may be permitted? Yes
So does this mean anyone can do anything to that building? That is how it reads to me.
What do you think? Should this piece of Sunshine history be salvaged for posterity?