Former "Broadway Picture Theatre" Including Interior | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former "Broadway Picture Theatre" Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Former "Broadway Picture Theatre" Including Interior
Other name/s: Phoenician Club
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Primary address: 173-179 Broadway, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
173-179 BroadwayUltimoSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The main façade of the former Broadway Picture Theatre is historically important as one of the oldest surviving pre- World War 1 cinema facades in Sydney. The Broadway façade exhibits the general characteristics of the Federation Free Style. It also forms part of a dominant visual element in the group of late nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial buildings between Mountain and Wattle Streets, Ultimo.
Date significance updated: 09 Sep 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Hassell and Stockman (attributed)
Physical description: A purpose built picture theatre building built in the Federation Free Style occupying a site at the corner of Broadway and Mountain streets. The building has a load bearing brick walls, timber framed double hung windows and a hipped roof and is decorated with stucco.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:21 Jul 10
Modifications and dates: Interior has been substantially altered over time.

2005- Alterations and additions were carried out which included;
restoration of the façade
maintaining the cinema box form
partial demolition and reconstruction of the Mountain Street façade including new openings and activating the street frontage
alterations to accommodate commercial uses
additional level added set back from Broadway
Void created in Level 2 to interpret the spatial volume of the former cinema
Further information: Listed on the Movie Theatre Heritage Register as a Category 2 Cinema that is operating or adapted for reuse for other uses.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Commercial
Former use: Cinema, Ballroom Dancing venue, Night club


Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. With European Occupation of the Sydney region fronm 1788, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

The land was part of a grant to the Clergy Schools Land Corporation in the 1820s. By the 1850s the area had developed a mixture of residential and industrial uses, including slaughterhouses, distilleries and sugar mills. The pollution caused by industry, combined with the frequent flooding of Wattle creek led to the area around Athlone Place ( now Mountain Street) being resumed by Council.

Following civic improvements and resubdivision the site was leased by Marcus Clark and Co, who commissioned drawings and constructed a purpose built cinema in 1911. In 1922 the cinema was taken under the control of the McIntryes Broadway Picture Theatre circuit . It was wired for sound in the later 1920s . Upgrading works were carried out by architects Spain and Cosh by 1930s and 1940s for Marcus Clark and Co Ltd. In 1943 the cinema was taken over by Greater Union and the cinema continued to be used until 1960.

The original lease to Marcus Clark from Sydney City Council expired in 1969. The use from 1960 until 1972 has not been ascertained. Following a fire in 1972, the interior was remodeled and used as ballroom dancing studio, then from 1983 as an entertainment venue known as the Phoenician Club. Following the death of a teenage girl from a reaction to an illegal drug, the club closed in 1995 and the building was left unoccupied. The site was purchased by Australand in 2001as part of the Quadrant Off Broadway redevelopment. In 2005 alterations and additions were carried out to convert the building for retail and commercial uses and the façade was restored.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Provides evidence of the development of the film industry in NSW at the local area. It operated as a cinema from 1911 until 1960 and was wired for sound in the 1920s , serving the local community of Pyrmont, Chippendale and Ultimo.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with Marcus Clark and Company who leased the building from 1911 until 1969. It is more commonly associated with McIntyre's and later Greater Union Pictures.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The facade exhibits the general characteristics of the Federation Free Style and forms part of a dominant visual element in the group of late nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial buildings between Mountain and Wattle Streets, Ultimo.
SHR Criteria f)
The main elevation is a rare suriving example of a pre World War 1 cinema facade in Sydney.
SHR Criteria g)
The façade represents general characteristics of the Federation Free Style applied to a cinema.
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.

Recommended management:

The building is to be retained and conserved. All works to be carried out in accordance with the polices of the CMP prepared for the building and accompanied by a Statement of Heritage Impact. There shall be no further vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. Any alterations should be confined to areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I201614 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenNoel Bell Ridley Smith and Partners2002Conservation Management Plan - Former Cinema Building, 173-179 Broadway

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2420136

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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