435 Melbourne Road,
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Previously operated by: Southern Theatres
Architects: Ron Morton Taylor
Styles: Art Deco
Previous Names: Newport Theatre
Located in the west Melbourne district of Newport. On December 20, 1913 the Williamstown Cronicle announced that because of the growing population an inspection had been made of several suitable sites to build a picture theatre in Newport. The principle’s thought that it would be an advantage if it were close to the railway station. Ten years later the Williamstown Cronicle reported - After gaining council approval, the Newport Theatre at 435 Melbourne Road, Newport will open March 12, 1923 with the Paramount Pictures film “Blood and Sand” starring Rudolph Valentino. The manager Mr. Dark feels that the combination of star, story, director, cast makes it one of the greatest pictures of all time. Also on the same bill will be Thomas Meighan & Theodore Roberts in “If You Believe It, It’s So”. Patrons are advised to book quickly for the opening night.
On 5th November 1932, the Williamstown Cronicle announced that the management of Southern Theatres, Mr. W.V. Blackwood had taken control of the Newport Theatre. The first order of business would be to re-name the theatre Plaza Theatre. Many improvements had been made in the installation of the very latest talking picture equipment and the picture production plant. Last Tuesday night (1st November) the Mayor and Councillors, with representatives of the local press were invited to the official opening of the New Plaza Theatre, where the Mayor in a brief speech referred to the enterprise of the management, and wished them success. He then formally declared the refurbish theatre open. The Mayor in proposing success to the company, referred to the large revenue paid by them to the council for electric energy and rates. Councillors J. Gray & Nelson supported his remarks. Councillor Gray considered the production and the ‘sound’ was as good if not better that at the best city theatres. Note: At the time Southern Theatres also controlled the Empress Theatre in Williamstown.
On October 19, 1938 the Herald (Melbourne) announced an extensive reconstruction and enlarging of the existing Plaza Theatre. It will feature an attractive façade in a modern silhouette, a spacious foyer, and a sound-proof children’s room. A contract for the complete work has been entered into and construction will be supervised by Mr. R. Morton Taylor, architect of Collins Street, who has designed the new theatre. The foyer will feature a low ceiling with wide flat cornices and decorative lighting, with stairs on either side of the foyer leading to the dress circle. A sound-proof children’s room will be built off the foyer with a full view of the screen. Proscenium wings will consist of curved splays with contrasting horns and horizontal and vertical plaster features, plus flush horizontal lighting units. The new look has a definite Art Deco style influence. A modern shop will be added to the frontage. The complete building work will be carried out by Mr. P. N. Gum of Sunshine.
Over the years the Plaza Theatre had flourished, and in 1954 an arrangement was made to install a new wide screen to cater for CinemaScope & VistaVision movies. The additional expenditure proved worthwhile, with a string of big hits such as “The Robe” & “White Christmas” playing to excellent box office. In 1959, because of the advent of television, box office returns had diminished to almost nothing. When the theatre closed in the 1960’s it was playing foreign films. By 1970 it was a burnt out shell and was finally demolished. A new building has been since constructed on the site for office purposes. There is now no evidence that a theatre ever existed at this location.
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