Palace Independent Cinema

86-88 Lake Street,
Cairns, QLD 4870

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Far Northern Theatres Ltd.

Architects: Harvey G. Draper

Styles: Art Deco

Previous Names: Palace Theatre, Cinema Capri

Nearby Theaters

Palace Theatre Lake Street and Shield Street, Cairns, QLD - Grand re-opening Sept 4, 1940

The first theatre in Cairns designed to show films was built in Spence Street, Cairns in 1912. Known as the Lyric Theatre it was designed by Cairns based architect E. Gregory Waters. In addition to showing films the Lyric Theatre was the venue for various concerts and circus performances. It closed soon after to be reopened as the Royal Pictures, and then before 1913 there was another name change to Palace Theatre. In coming years there was a further name change to Austral Theatre before the building was destroyed by fire in 1923.

A brand new Palace Theatre was designed by architect Harvey G. Draper and built in Lake Street opposite Hides Hotel in 1914. Messrs Rolley & Padgett engineers of Brisbane, were successful tenderers for the skeleton steelwork and roof trusses. Mr. C.P. Jorgensen, the well known contractor of Cairns secured a second contract to complete the building. Mr J. Benson of Cairns was responsible for the electrical installation. The building covered a quarter acre block. The auditorium was 108ft x 55ft, while the operating box measured 12ft x 8ft and was located over the staircase with a clear view of the proscenium. The front was of reinforced concrete rendered in cement on both sides. The grand stairway was positioned in the centre of the vestibule, with ticket-box, cloakroom and manager’s office to the left. The stage was 18ft deep, and ran the full width of the building, while dressing rooms are adjacent. The screen was said to be the largest in the Commonwealth. The Palace Theatre had 1,200-seats. G. Frederick James ‘Archie’ Richards is recorded as the Palace Theatres' first Electric Biograph operator. The Palace Theatre was opened on 21st December 1914. In 1924 the theatre was extensively altered and remodelled by the architects Lawrence & Lordan. The original architect Harvey G. Draper died of the Spanish Flu at the age of 52 in 1921.

On November 11, 1929 the Palace Theatre had an official opening attended by his Worship, the Mayor (alderman W.A,. Collins) when it was equipped with Western Electric sound system. and screening Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers in “Close Harmony”, a Paramount all-talking, all-singing, all-dancing movie musical plus a programme of all-talkie short subjects.

On 4th September 1940 it was taken over by Northern Theatres P.L They undertook a £6,000 remodel. All lighting in the auditorium was concealed and were in a colour scheme of blue & green.

In 1945 Far Northern Theatres Ltd. was formed and they took over the operation of the Palace Theatre. They also operated theatres in Babina, Gordonvale, Mareeba and Thursday Island as well as the Tropical Theatre, Plaza Theatre and Rex Theatre. They were still the operators in 1966 when the theatre was sold. It was subsequently used as a warehouse and furniture showroom. The building was divided into a shopping arcade and the Cinema Capri during a remodelling in 1971. New owners acquired the building in 1995 and began operating the theatre as the Palace Independent Cinema This was finally closed in 1997 and the building was demolished 1999.

In 2007 a new building was constructed and has been operating as a backpackers hostel named Global Palace.

Contributed by Greg Lynch
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