Apollo Theatre

331 Burwood Road,
Melbourne, VIC 3122

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Additional Info

Functions: Community Center, Pool Hall

Previous Names: Manresa Hall

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Apollo Theatre

The Manresa Hall was opened on March 12, 1925 by the Fathers of the Jesuit Order of the Immaculate Conception. For a brief time it became home of dances, concerts, services and meetings. The building had been called Manresa Hall in honour of St. Ignatius Loyola. Manresa was a spot imperishably associated with the name of the great founder of the Jesuit Order. Father Hearn had hastened the completion of the hall so as it could open on 12th March, the anniversary of the canonization of St. Ignatius, which took place in the year 1622.

In 1934 George Young approached the order with the idea of converting the hall into a cinema. This would entail the installation of a screen and the construction of a projection booth, along with the purchase of equipment. Mr. Young’s offer was accepted, and the Apollo Cinema was opened on 29th September 1934, by the Mayer of Hawthorn, with the lessees confirmed as Mr. & Mrs. George Young.

The theatre accommodated 650-seats in the stalls and 150-seats in the balcony. The debut film was supplied by Paramount Pictures titled “Cradle Song” starring Dorothea Wieck & Evelyn Venable. This was about an abandoned baby raised by nuns and was approved by the good Fathers of the Jesuit Order.

In 1936, the Apollo Theatre bid farewell to the George Young family, and the lease was acquired by Mr. David Laidlaw. The nearby Glen Theatre re-opened in June 1939 resulting in reduced attendances, making it impossible for the Apollo Theatre to remain in business. The Apollo Theatre was closed two weeks later. The final screening was Columbia Pictures “One Night of love” starring Grace Moore & “Sunset in Vienna” with Lili Palmer from General Film Distributers. The Apollo Theatre had operated as a cinema for 6 years before reverting back to the Manresa Hall.

Once again, as it had begun, the good fathers offered a multi-purpose venue for the use of the community, with the accent on 50/50 dancing and billiards. In the early-2000’s the venue was refurbished and was used successfully as a children’s play centre, operating under the name Billy lids. By 2022 it was in use as a Chinese restaurant.

Contributed by Lost Memory
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