Roxy Theatre and Peters Greek Café Complex | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Roxy Theatre and Peters Greek Café Complex

Item details

Name of item: Roxy Theatre and Peters Greek Café Complex
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Cinema
Location: Lat: -29.869111 Long: 150.571436
Primary address: 74 Maitland Street, Bingara, NSW 2404
Parish: Bingara
County: Murchison
Local govt. area: Gwydir
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Anaiwan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT2 DP228540
LOT3 DP228540
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
74 Maitland StreetBingaraGwydirBingaraMurchisonPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Roxy Theatre and Peters Greek Cafe Complex is of state significance as a rare surviving example of an Inter-War Art Deco cinema with its distinctive street presence and intact, luxurious, interior detailing and layout in country NSW. Its significance is enhanced by the fact that the Inter-War theatre still operates as a theatre and entertainment venue today. The theatre and cafe complex demonstrate the importance of 'cinema going' during the first half of the 20th century in NSW towns before the advent of television. It demonstrates and records the early introduction of American pop culture into country NSW through its function-the screening of early Hollywood movies, and also through its original theatrical design and its name, which were all modelled on the world's largest showcase movie palace of the time, the original Roxy Theatre in New York of 1927.

The Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe Complex is also of state heritage significance for its association with the story of Greek migration and settlement in country NSW in the first half of the 20th century. It is also of significance for its ability to demonstrate the architectural, technical and social aspects of cinema going during the 20th century.

The Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe complex is a rare and representative example of an Inter-War theatre designed in the Art Deco architectural style and retaining its internal and external design and layout elements. Being a rare building of this type and still being used for its original purpose makes it a rare demonstration of the social and entertainment culture that existed prior to the introduction of television. It is one of a handful of such cinemas that survive intact today and continues to operate as a theatre and as a significant focus of the community's social and cultural life.

Internally, the Art Deco detailing of the ceiling and wall panels and proscenium create a sense of luxury and occasion for a visit to the cinema in the days prior to television.

The significance of the building is enhanced by the fact that the layout of the complex (including the shops, the theatre and adjoining cafe) remains remarkably intact with only an extension to the back stage area and the addition of a kitchen being made with sensitivity to the heritage significance of the main building.
Date significance updated: 07 Nov 16
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: Mark Woodforde
Construction years: 1936-1936
Physical description: The Roxy Theatre embraces some of the most striking original Art Deco architecture in New South Wales and it still contains the original fixtures and fittings, including the ornate stucco plaster, paintwork and coloured lights from 1936.

The theatre complex faces Maitland street and presents tthree shops and a cafe with the theatre entrance positioned centrally.The complex as a whole is a rectangular interpretation of the Art Deco style,with a stepped silhouette, pilasters and entablature and simple panelling to break up its cement-rendered wall surface. The pilasters feature stylised low relief decorative patterns.

The two shops to the south and one shop to the north of the theatre entrance feature large chrome framed shopfronts with a recessed entry and chrome stepped art deco motif at the top of each window and entry. This stepped motif is echoed in the parapet of the theatre entrance and is picked out in the original colour scheme of white, blue, maroon and a lighter shade of maroon. The entrance to the theatre is via two timber framed glass double doors which are either side of the ticket office in the entrance portico (typical of American cinema entrances).

The cafe is located to the north of the theatre on the corner of Maitland and Cunningham street. Its street entrance is a handsome set of three timber framed glass folding doors with the large chrome framed windows either side. The painted glass sign "Peter's Cafe" above the doorway is framed in the stepped chrome motif . The Maitland street facade of the complex is tiled with square black tiles. The Cunningham street side of the cafe features elements of the Interwar Spanish Mission architecture with arched windoiws, stucco finish and spanish tiled roof

Entry to the theatre auditorium is through a long, narrow vestibule. The floor here is terrazo and the vestibule ceiling features a large stepped cornice with a decorative grille utilising a typical art deco pattern located alon the centre of the cieling. A short flight of steps leads up to the auditorium entry doors. The rear section of the auditorium is stepped and seating is fixed, whereas the front section is flat (for dances) and seating is moveable. The floor of the front section is of cypress pine and laid as a 'waltz' floor to facilitate balls and dancing.

The auditorium decoration repeats the stepped motif of the facade, the ceiling stepping down to meet the walls at an entablature seemingly supported by pilasters. A wavy Art Deco frieze on the entablature and the perforated panels between the pilasters contrast with the angular theme. The wall panels comprise two elements, a central vertical row of five perforated, fan-like elements on each side of which is a vertical row of six rectangles containing diagonal strapping. The light fittings on the pilasters and proscenium splays are designed as angular vase elements.A number of these wall pannels are fixed over the shuttered openings to the outside. These as well as the decorative grille running the length of the ceiling in the auditorium were incorporated as a way of ensuring aircirculation and cooling in summer and were closed in winter.

The whole auditorium features a complex and pleasing original paint scheme and elements of decorative plaster. These and the lavish decorative elements assisted in giving the experience of theatre going a sense of occasion. The theatre originally had a low stage which has been removed.

The back stage area has been slightly extended to allow for modernday use as a perdormance venue. An extension to the side of the theatre behind the cafe hasbeen made to accomodate a commercial kitchen , once again to allow for the theatre to be used for a variety of uses - education facility, theatre and event function facility.

To the south of the theatre entrance vestibule is the original refreshment bar and passed that one of the original shops which has been set up as a museum celebrating Greeks in NSW. Further south is one other shop which was originally a doctor's surgery. On the northern sife of the entry vestibule is the third shop which is used as an extension of the entry vestibule. Further north is Peter's Cafe which is now entered from the theatre entry by a ramp. The cafe floor is terrazo laid in a geometric pattern and the ceiling is a plaster with timer lattice and a patterned cornice. The cafe's timber dining booths are original as is the timber wall panelling except for that alongside the disability ramp which is a fairly recent addition. While the front bar is original, some of the cafe furniture has been sourced from Fardouli's cafe in Inverelle.

The area above the cafe was originally accomodation for those who ran it. It is now used as a conference venue. Its layout and detailing internally is unchanged and features a large living dining room with access to the outside stairway to Cunningham street. There is a small kitchenette, an office and several bedrooms and bathroom and a toilet for cafe/theatre patrons. A lift has been installed on the landing of the stairway from the ground floor. This stairway features a metal ballustrade with a distinctive art deco decorative motif which is found throughout the theatre complex.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good Condition overall. The roof and dance floor are in need of repair due to water damage, however this can be repaired.
Date condition updated:31 Oct 16
Modifications and dates: 2003 Restoration of the theatre
2007 Extension of backstage area
2012 Addition of industrial kitchen wing.
Further information: The overall integrity of the building is excellent. Although there were major works done in early 2000s these were done for functionality as a theatre, while retaining the authentiticity of the building.

The work carried out in the restoration was to best protect the significant fabric of the place with minimal disturbance, to ensure the culturally significant aspects of the place are respected, retained and preserved.
Current use: café, cinema, theatre, conference and function centre
Former use: theatre/cinema and café, shop, restaurant

History

Historical notes: Aboriginal pre-contact and contact history
The land where the small northern NSW town of Bingara is now located is at about the north western extent of the traditional country of the Kamilaroi Aboriginal people. The western side of the Gwydir River was the traditional country of the Weraerai Aboriginal people. Kamilaroi hunted the abundant stock of small marsupials. They aided their hunting efforts by using fire to ensure the underbrush did not become too dense, thereby creating an open forest environment. (Graham Wilson, 2006, Gwydir Shire Council Thematic History Study)

The first documented exploration of the area was by botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham during his exploratory trip to the Darling Downs. Cunningham passed through the area, camping at Halls Creek where the town of Bingara is today in 1827. (A.J.Bert 2009. The Bingera Run).

By the mid 1830s the area was known as Stodderts Valley and was adequately watered by the Gwydir River and its tributaries such as Halls Creek near Bingara. Its good soils and abundant water had attracted a number of squatters who claimed runs in the nearby area. The valley land was taken up by Hall family who already had considerable claims on land in the Hunter Valley and in the Hawkesbury. (Ibid)

As the squatters became more numerous and the resources of the land and cattle was contested between the Aboriginal people and the Europeans, numerous attacks occurred by both Europeans and Aboriginals. These escalated during the 1830s and culminated in one of the most renowned of the attacks, the Myall Creek Massacre of 18 December 1838. A group of armed men headed by John Flemming of Mungie Bungie Station near Moree rode out to Myall Creek Station where they found and killed a group of about 30 men, women and children of the Weraerai and Kamilaroi peoples. The perpetrators were tried and eventually 7 of the 12 men involved were hanged. This was the first time the killers of Aboriginal people were executed by the Colonial Government (Bert 2009 and Wilson, 2006.).

Discovery of gold
In 1851 Gold was discovered in the Bingara area on Keera Station and a few months later at Cobidah Creek on the Bingera Run. As usual a rush of fortune seekers made their way to the area and further gold discoveries were made in 1852 leading to the proclamation of the Bingara goldfield in 1853. (Bert 2009)

Bingera township
To support the population of gold seekers the town of Bingera was surveyed and set out. By 1853, William Hall of the Bingara Run had set up the first hotel, the Bingara Inn, in Bingara. In that same year the first general store was opened. By 1862 Bingara and its population of ninety was serviced by a Post Office and law and a Watch House and Lock up was established in the town. In that year Bingra Public School was also established. (Bert 2009)

The real boom period for the town of Bingera occurred after the discovery of copper and diamonds in the area in 1772-3. During the 1880s Binagra became the largest producer of diamonds in Australia and remains one of the most successful diamond mines in Australia. (Bingara NSW in http://www.aussie towns.com.au/town/bingara-nsw)

During the 1970s and 1880s the civic amenity of the town continued to grow with the establishment of a courthouse, Royal Mail Booking Office and several churches, catholic, Church of England and Presbyterian In addition to mining, the town supported the timber and wheat industries as well as the ongoing pastoral and agricultural industries. In 1889 Bingera was made a municipality and its name changed to Bingara. By 1891 Bingra's population was 738 and in 1911, over 1600 residents were located in the town. ('Bingara' in Australian Heritage http://wwwheritageaustralia.com .au/new-south-wales/3175-bingara, Bert 2009 Bingara NSW in http://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/bingara-nsw)

Despite the impacts of the Great Depression throughout New South Wales, the 1930s proved to be a time of expansion and improvement for Bingara with Bingara Council receiving many requests to construct residences, shops, and businesses.

"The list included ten applications for new dwellings, ten for additions to buildings, twelve for shops or additions to business premises, three for garages for motor sheds and on each for a picture show, a petrol depot, a bulk store, a guest house, a stable By July 1935 many new shops were being erected in Bingara, the Imperial Hotel was entirely remodelled, a new picture shoe was opened and another was in the course of construction". (Wilson, 2006.)

Wilson notes that the arrival of a number of Greek businessmen in the town, coupled with the plans to develop the Copeton Dam situated a few 55 kilometres east of Bingara may have contributed to the small boom experienced in Bingara at this time.

The influence of the Greeks on the spread and popularity of cinema in NSW
Among the 'Greek businessmen' Wilson mentions were three men from the Greek island of Kytheria, who were integral to the story of the Roxy Cinema, Emanuel Aroney, George Psaltis and Peter Feros. These men, like many Greeks at the time left their home to flee the ongoing economic, social and political upheaval experienced as a result of the conflict between Greece and Turkey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

America was the most popular destination for those seeking a better life but this destination was restricted by the imposition of strict quotas on arrivals from South and Eastern Europe to America in 1924. Consequently there was a marked influx of Greek migrants to Australia in the 1920s. Many of those in the arriving in NSW at the time came from the island of Kytheria and many of them established refreshment bars, milk bars and also cinemas throughout the suburbs of Sydney and in rural NSW. (C Turnbull and C Valotis 2001, The History of the Roxy Theatre and Cafe and the creation of the Roxy Museum and K Cork 1998).

Kevin Cork in his thesis notes that around 66 Greek businessmen and women were involved in establishing and managing cinemas in NSW from 1917, when Angleo Coronis established himself as a film exhibitor in Sydney, right through to 1984 when Chris James finally retired after 38 years in the business. (K Cork 1998) Some of those Greek exhibitors ran multiple theatres in several towns either simultaneously or as serial operations. Sir Nicholas Laurantus bought and built cinemas in Narrandera, Junee, Tumut, Lockhart, Cowra Hillston and Gundagai, often installing family members to run them. In fact Laurantas brother in law Peter Stathis and his sons ran the Montreal theatre in Tumut from 1930 to 1965. Similarly the Hatsatouris family ran a chain of cinemas in Port Macquaire, Taree, Walcha and Laurieton. Others families such as the Notaras initially operated only one theatre, the Saraton in Grafton. They then leased out the theatre until the 1960s. Recently the Notaras family have reopened the theatre.( Cork. 1998)

A survey of cinemas in NSW undertaken in 1962 indicated there were 351 enclosed cinemas in 289 NSW rural towns. Of these, between 1915 and 1960, 116 theatres in NSW were at some time operated by Greek exhibitors in 57 towns. 34 new theatres were built by Greek businessmen in those 57 towns. These figures demonstrate that the contribution of these Greek migrants to the social and cultural life of NSW was not insignificant. (C Turnbull and C Valotis 2001)

"Where Greek immigrants had picture theatres they controlled their towns principal entertainment at a time when the overall population attended between 20-30 times a year". (R Thorne. 2003. Nomination to list Athenium, Junee Cinema on the State Heritage Register

"They had direct input into the moral and social values of the communities in which they operated. They brought national and international events to the rural areas in the form of feature films, newsreels and documentaries" (K. Cork 1998)

Generally speaking, the decades from the 1930s to the mid 1960s were the boom time for cinemas and cinema going. From the early travelling cinema exhibitors enterprising business people chose to market cinema going as a glamorous and exciting social activity and built virtual pleasure palaces in which to screen the best of Hollywood films. Even in rural NSW towns a rash of attractive and glittering picture palaces were built in the architectural styles popular at the time from Interwar Stripped Classical and Interwar Spanish Mission to high Art Deco. The elaborate and modern architecture style of these buildings gave theatre going a sense of occasion and glamour. (Ross Thorne, 1995. Cinema as Place: The case of picture theatres in a group of towns and villages in the Central West of NSW)

The Roxy, Bingara
It was with this dream, to woo their audience with a sense of glamour and occasion when they visited the theatre, that the three Aroney, Feros and Psaltis began plans for the Roxy. The plans included not only a luxurious new theatre and refreshment rooms but three independent state of the art shops and also a guest house in which attendees from more remote rural locations could rest for the night.

When they first arrived in Australia in the mid 1920s, the three men had decided to try their luck setting up a business in the small rural town of Bingara They established a cafe and formed a partnership, Peters and Co. Their cafe interests expanded to include another cafe in Barraba in 1930 and they successfully traded through the worst of the Great Depression on the strength of these enterprises. (The Roxy and Greek Cafe Bingara, www.roxybingara.com.au/roxy-history)

By 1934 they had purchased a large corner site on Maitland and Cunningham Street and engaged a Sydney architect, W.V.E . Woodforde to draw up plans for the entertainment and retail complex. By 1935 construction had begun. The theatre auditorium was to be 104 feet long by 40 feet wide. The floor of the auditorium was to a section of raked seating with the section nearest to the stage comprising a level floor with seating that would be taken up to reveal a specially constructed waltz dance floor of cypress pine. (The Roxy and Greek Cafe Bingara, www.roxybingara.com.au/roxy-history)

Unfortunately the build was subject to a number of alterations that resulted in extra time and expense. One of the alterations was to heighten the auditorium walls by 4 feet 6 inches to allow for the possible later inclusion of a dress circle. This brought about changes in decorative treatments of the main ceiling and proscenium. (Georgia Standerwick, 2016.)

It is thought that other obstacles to the speedy construction of the theatre may have been posed by the Greek partners' competitor in the Bingra cinema trade, a Mr Victor Reginald Peacoke who was Mayor of the local Council at the timeWith the announcement of the plans for the Roxy, Peacocke determined to build another new purpose built cinema in the town, The Regent. He continued to wage a campaign to forestall the construction of the Roxy by lobbying the Chief Secretary of NSW who had charge of cinema licensing and regulation, and weighing-in his influence in the local Council which approved the building work. (The Roxy and Greek Cafe Bingara, www.roxybingara.com.au/roxy-history)

The new Regent was completed significantly earlier than the Roxy thus capitalizing on the loyalty of potential Roxy audience. After the Roxy opened in March 1936, Peacock continued to vie for audience share by slashing his entry prices, which the Roxy partners had to match, and making improvements such as the installation of an advanced sound system. In response the Roxy hosted a gala 'Movie Ball' and "Uncle George Psaltis declares he is going as Shirley Temple and has been measured up for a special dress". (Bingara Advocate, in P Prineas, 2008. Katsehamos and the Great Idea)

Finally Peacoke out maneuvered Aroney, Feros and Psaltis when he opened an open-air picture theatre at the rear of the new Regent. This coupled with the severe debt due to the construction costs of the ambitious Roxy project was the undoing of the enterprise. In August 1936 the Roxy closed its doors. Aroney remained in Bingara managing cafe's for the next 20 years. Feros moved to Victoria and Psaltis returned to Bingara after some time in Sydney and managed the Roxy cafe for a time. (The Roxy and Greek Cafe Bingara, www.roxybingara.com.au/roxy-history)

The Roxy Theatre operated as a cinema until 1958 when it shut down. Apart from the occasional films screening, odd boxing match or roller disco, it lay dormant for the next 40 years. (Georgia Standerwick, 2016.)

The virtual abandonment experienced by the Roxy from the 1960s to the late 1990s was a fate shared by numerous rural suburban and city film theatres, many of which were established prior to WWII. The widespread uptake of television is given as the primary reason for the decline in cinema going generally. As a result of this it seems that this type of building is becoming rarer in NSW country towns. In 2003 it was noted by Ross Thorne that only 31 of the 351 cinemas in rural NSW were still recognisable as cinemas. Many of these have been deployed for such diverse uses as apartment blocks, bargain centres, function centres, motor mechanic premises. Only 11 of the 31 retain their decorative interiors and exteriors. (R Thorne. 2003.)
A desktop survey of remaining cinemas in country towns indicates that around only seven Interwar cinemas in rural NSW towns retain their original format and interior/exterior architectural features and decorative schemes and still operate as theatres. Of these the Roxy in Bingara is the best example of an Art Deco Cinema.

The Roxy Cafe continued to operate under a series of Greek owners until the mid-1960's when it became a freehold title and was sold to Bob and Elva Kirk who opened a memorabilia shop in the cafe, and who lived above it in the residence. It then was used as a Chinese Restaurant for 20 years before being purchased by the Gwydir Shire Council in 2008.( Standerwick 2016)

In the early 1990s a group of dedicated community members first recognised the Roxy's significance and began to lobby the then Bingara Shire Council to purchase and restore the theatre. The Bingara Council purchased the building in 1999 and once it had been successful in obtaining both state and federal funding, set about faithfully restoring it to its former glory. (Standerwick 2016 )

Today the building complex houses the local tourist information office in one of the shops and a museum celebrating Greek history in NSW operates in another of the shops. The cafe has been leased in recent years but now, in the absence of a long tern lease, it accommodates pop-up cafes. (2016 Notes from site visit)

The theatre is in great demand these days as a live performance venue, a film club venue, for civic receptions, weddings and reunions. The accommodation above the cafe is a convention centre and office/storage area. At the rear of the theatre an extension to the backstage area was constructed in 2007. This was funded by the Department of Education to facilitate the local school's Theatre Studies. It was constructed by a "work for the dole" team of student workers. (2016 Notes from site visit)

In 2012 a further addition to the rear of the theatre was an industrial kitchen where trade courses in hospitality are run by the local TAFE. The kitchen allows catering for the various functions that happen at the theatre. (2016 Notes from site visit)

Comparisons:
Greek cafes left a remarkable legacy on Australia's cultural history and played a significant role in the changing landscape of our regions. Almost every town across rural NSW and Queensland boasted a Greek cafe. Greek family owned cafes in northern New South Wales which have closed in recent years includeThe Busy Bee in Gunnedah, the White Rose in Uralla, Fardouly's Cafe and Pete's Place in Inverell. Still operating are The Paragon in Katoomba and the Niagra in Gundagai, in continuous operation for over a century. The survival of a guesthouse for patrons, adjoining the Roxy Bingara (to the rear), is rare and possibly unique among surviving Greek cafes in NSW.

"The Greeks really transformed Australia's culinary and cultural landscape" Mrs McNaughton said. "Prior to the Greek cafes there wasn't anywhere families could go. You could only get meals at certain hours served in the pubs and inns. If you arrived in town and it was before or after the opening and closing times of the kitchens, you literally couldn't get anything to eat."

Even during the depression, locals would make an effort to visit the cafe (Johnston, 2012).

References:
http://www.roxybingara.com.au/about-the-roxy/

Kevin Cork, 'Parthenons Down Under, Greek Motion Picture Exhibitors in NSW 1915 - 1960', PhD thesis.

P. Prineas. Katsehamos and the Great Idea. A true story of Greeks and Australians in the early twentieth century. Plateia. 2006

T. Risson. Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill: Greek Cafes in Twentieth-Century Australia. T. Risson. 2007

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing private towns-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Beautifying towns and villages-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Cinema-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe complex is of state heritage significance as it is a rare surviving example of an Inter-War Art Deco cinema in country NSW from the 1930s-the heyday of movie going. Opened in 1936, this theatre demonstrates the importance of 'cinema going' during the first half of the 20th century in NSW towns before the advent of television. It also demonstrates and records the early introduction of American pop culture into country NSW by the early Hollywood movies shown for the first time in this cinema, by the building function and its original theatrical design and its name (which were all modelled on the world's largest showcase movie palace of the time, the original Roxy Theatre in New York of 1927). This early introduction of American pop culture in the form of Hollywood movies and picture theatres, provided a major new form of entertainment, communication and society to NSW communities, as well as having a significant influence on Australian tastes of the time in architecture, fashion and design generally, language, music and behaviour. The theatre is also historically important as it continues to be used as a cinema and community based theatre.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe complex may be of state heritage significance as it illustrates, through the story of Greek migrants who established the Roxy, the story of Greek immigration and settlement in country NSW and Queensland in the first half of the 20th century. This was a period when most Greeks owned, or were employed in, cafes and a considerable number owned and operated picture theatres.

The Roxy evidences and marks significant points in the journey of Greek immigrants from Greece and in their subsequent 'journey' towards becoming Australians. It is also a tangible reminder of the Greek cafes and cinemas which were a 'Trojan Horse' for the Americanisation of the nation's eating and social-cultural habits from the very start of the 20th century when American food-catering ideas, technology and products influenced the development of cinema and popular music, and even architectural style, in NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe complex is of state heritage significance as a distinctive, landmark Inter-War building designed in the Art Deco style in country NSW. Its exterior facade is finely detailed with a stepped silhouette, pilasters and entablature and simple panelling to break up its cement-rendered wall surface. The pilasters feature stylised low relief decorative patterns. Other external details include the chrome framed shopfront windows and entranceways.

Internally, the Art Deco detailing of the ceiling and wall panels and proscenium create a sense of luxury and occasion for a visit to the cinema in the days prior to television.

The significance of the building is enhanced by the fact that the layout of the complex (including the shops, the theatre and adjoining cafe) remains remarkably intact with only an extension to the back stage area and the addition of a kitchen being made with sensitivity to the heritage significance of the main building.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe complex may be of state heritage significance for its special association with the Greek Australian Kytherians as it has become a place of pilgrimage for Greeks who grew up as 'cafe kids' and were a part of the Greek immigration story in Australia.

It is also locally significant for its part in the historic and contemporary community and social life, at once holding the memories and associations of those who grew up attending the cinema there and for those who are growing up now and taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the theatre including cinema going, school and community performances, weddings, reunions etc.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Roxy Theatre and Cafe complex may be of state heritage significance for its complete and detailed demonstration of architectural, technical and social aspects of cinema going during the 20th century. The intactness of the place can also demonstrate aspects of the Greek immigration story in NSW through both the story of the establishment of the cinema and the artefacts and memorabilia on display in the museum established in the theatre complex.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Roxy Theatre and Cafe complex may be of state heritage significance as a rare example of an Inter-War theatre designed in the Art Deco architectural style that retains its internal and external design and layout elements. Being a rare building of this type and still being used for its original purpose, makes the Roxy a rare demonstration of the social and entertainment culture that existed prior to the introduction of television.

It is also rare as a purpose built cinema of its era that is still used as a cinema and community performance venue today. It is the only known theatre still operating in NSW with its accompanying cafe and shops still in place. While a number of NSW towns still have their cinema buildings, many of them have been gutted and reused as shops, motor mechanics premises or developed as apartment buildings.

In 1951, a survey indicated that there were 351 cinemas operating in 289 country town in NSW. By 2003, the number of cinemas recognisable as such numbered 31. A desktop survey of cinemas undertaken as part of this heritage assessment indicates that, of these 31, only seven Inter-War cinemas in rural NSW towns retain their original format, interior/exterior architectural features and decorative schemes and still operate as theatres.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Roxy Theatre and Cafe complex may be of state heritage significance as a fine example of a cinema designed in the Inter-War Art Deco style in NSW. It is one of a handful of such cinemas that survive intact and continue to operate as a theatre and remain as a centre of the community's social and cultural life.
Integrity/Intactness: Good
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe

HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL

Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe Complex

SHR No. 01990

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule "C" by the owner described in Schedule "B" on the item described in Schedule "A".




The Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP
Minister for Heritage


Dated at Sydney, Day of 2017


SCHEDULE "A"

The item known as the Roxy Theatre and Peter's Greek Cafe Complex, situated on the land described in Schedule "B".


SCHEDULE "B"

All those pieces or parcels of land known as Lots 2&3 DP 228540 in Parish of Bingara, County of Murchison shown edged heavy black on the plan catalogued HC 3020 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SCHEDULE "C"

1. All internal works and activities to the 2007 extension to the backstage area of the theatre provided that the fabric of the original theatre is not impacted.
2. All internal works and activities to the 2012 new industrial kitchen on the Cunningham Street elevation at the rear of the theatre building providing the works do not impact on the fabric of the original building.
Aug 29 2017

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0199025 Aug 17 924514
Potential Heritage Item  14 Nov 12   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Electronic 2016Bingara NSW - Aussie Towns View detail
Electronic 2016Deco Down Under: The influence of Art Deco in Australia View detail
Written 2016History of the Roxy Theatre and Roxy Café and the creation of the Roxy Museum
WrittenAnna Patty2013Milk Bars and Rock Music: Living the American Dream in a Greek Café
WrittenBrendan Connolly and Les Todd1996Paddocks Palaces and Picture Shows
WrittenCraig Turnbull and Chris Valiotis2001Beyong the Rolling Wave: A thematic history of Greek settlement in Australia
WrittenGraham Wilson2006Gwydir Shire Council Thematic History
WrittenGreek Cafes Transformed Australian Food2014Verica Jokic
WrittenJohnston, Megan2012'Far from Kythera a Greek treasure is given new life', in "The Sydney Morning Herald"
WrittenK.J. Cork and L. R. Todd1993Front Stalls or Back
WrittenKevin Cork Overview of the Cinema Years
ElectronicNSW Government Gazette2017NSW Government Gazette View detail
ElectronicPeter Preneas2016Kastehamos - Bingara the Roxy Story View detail
WrittenRichard Apperly, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds2011Identifing Australian Architecture
WrittenRobert Parkinson1995Gauffered Velour
WrittenRoss Thorn in Art Deco in Australia: Sunrise over the Pacific Eds MFersen and M Nilsson. Palaces of Pleasure: Cinema Design
WrittenRoss Thorne2003Heritage Assessment of the JADDA Centre formerly Athenium Theatre, Junee
WrittenRoss Thorne1995Cinema as Place: The case of the picture theatres in a group of towns and villages in the Central West of NSW
WrittenRoss Thorne1983Theatre Architecture in NSW
WrittenRoss Thorne1983Theatres and Cinemas in NSW Stage 2
WrittenRoss Thorne1976Picture Palace Architecture
WrittenRoss Thorne, Les Todd and Kevin Cork1996Movie Theatre Register for NSW 1896-1996
WrittenRoy Lumby1995The Art Deco Building Inventory Stage 3
WrittenSimon Brand1983Picture Palaces and Flea Pits
ElectronicStuart Rintoul2014Australias Last Single Screen Cinemas View detail
WrittenThe Bingera Run2009Bert Howard
WrittenWeir and Phillips, Architects and Heritage Consultants2001Conservation Management Plan , Former Hoyts Crest Theatre

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The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061432


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