6 Brown Street,
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The Dungog Cinema (Official)
Styles: Mission Revival
Previous Names: James Theatre
The Dungog cinema is the oldest still operating purpose-built cinema in Australia
Originally the site was used for an open air theatre which opened in 1913. Under the control of James Stuart (hence the name James Theatre) by 1914 it had been roofed and in 1930 it underwent extensive reconstruction (the screen went from the north end to the south) and was equipped for talkies at that time. Seating was for 650, although the front section was flat floored and the seating was not fixed, allowing for dances, etc. A large stage, dressing rooms and supper room were also provided. It is believed the Spanish-style facade was added to the building in the 1930’s rebuild.
In the 1980’s the local council acquired the building as a community centre and the cinema operation continued under Ken Reeve until his retirement in November 2007.
Architecturally it is historic for being one of only four Spanish Mission cinema facades in the state. The auditorium, although painted in recent times, retains the simplicity of a cinema built in a small country town during the Great Depression.
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