214 Tuam Street,
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Previously operated by: Kerridge-Odeon
Architects: Thomas Stoddart Lambert
Styles: Italian Renaissance
Previous Names: Opera House, St James Theatre
Built in 1883, this stunning, freely treated Italian style vaudeville venue opened for business. At the time it was the largest building erected as a place of public entertainment in Christchurch, decorated in in a eclectic array of Italian motifs, the elegant street-front façade was the grandest in the city. The stalls held 1,400 whilst the immense balcony seated 600.
In 1930, it became the St. James Theatre, completely remodelled. The dress circle was reshaped into a gentle curve, re-raked to seat 420. Hosting a plethora of live-acts, international acts including Sir Laurence Olivier and the Old Vic company from London, England, the St. James Theatre coasted along with films and acts until 1959, when Kerridge Odeon bought the property and the Odeon was opened September 27th 1960, twinkling with an unequalled taste and elegance. The dress circle ceiling was raised four feet to avoid cropping the 70mm projection.
Of all of Christchurch’s grand old cinemas only the Odeon has retained it’s period interior decorations. The Odeon closed August 1983 and sold to the Assembly of God who have since departed in early-2004. The theatre is now in the hands of property developers and it’s future is in crisis mode, given its age, it does not have time on it’s side with many earthquake issues outstanding plus as of last visit June 2004 there are many areas of plaster failure and damage. The stage house was demolished in 2012, but the remainder of the building still stands in late-2013…just.
The Odeon Theatre auditorium was later demolished following an earthquake, but the façade was still standing in August 2020. It is a category 1 Heritage Listed building.
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