853 High Street,
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Previously operated by: Hoyts Theatres
Firms: Cowper, Murphy, & Appleford
Styles: Renaissance Revival
Previous Names: Regent Theatre, Hoyts Regent Thornbury
Located in the Thornbury district of Melbourne, this opened as the Regent Theatre on 8th August 1925. It was designed by Sam Millsom who specialised in fibrous plasterwork, although he was not a trained architect. A feature on the façade is a large bass-relief featuring a ploughman and his rearing horses. It was built for F.W. Thring’s Associated Theatres Pty. Ltd. and presented films and vaudeville acts on its large stage. In 1926 it was taken over by Hoyts and re-named Hoyts Regent Theatre. It was equipped with a Western Electric sound system in August 1929. The Regent Theatre was unheated until 1946 when architectural firm Cowper, Murphy and Associates supervised the installation of a gas-fired plenum system and carried out other minor alterations to the theatre. Hoyts purchased the freehold of the theatre at this time.
With the introduction of television to Australia in 1956, cinema attendances plummeted and the Regent Theatre went over to part-time operation, only opening on Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings. It closed on 24th June 1967 and became a ballroom, named the Cantina Ballroom. In the early-2000’s the auditorium was twinned and the former balcony was converted into a reception hall for weddings and events, named the Midas Reception Hall. In 2010, new owners took over and now re-named Thornbury Theatre, it hosts wrestling matches, live music concerts as well as receptions in the upstairs section which retains original decorative plaster. Unfortunately downstairs in the former orchestra level there is virtually nothing remaining of the original decoration.
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