Scone Civic Theatre | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Scone Civic Theatre

Item details

Name of item: Scone Civic Theatre
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Cinema
Location: Lat: -32.0494682872 Long: 150.8682543990
Primary address: 144 Kelly Street, Scone, NSW 2337
Parish: Scone
County: Brisbane
Local govt. area: Upper Hunter
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Wanaruah
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT418DP59658
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
144 Kelly StreetSconeUpper HunterSconeBrisbanePrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Fivedale Pty LtdPrivate 

Statement of significance:

The Scone Civic Theatre is of State significance as the last remaining intact theatre designed by prominent theatre architects, Crick and Furse in New South Wales. Designed in 1937 and completed in 1938, the Scone Civic Theatre is a representative example of the work of the nationally important cinema architects, Crick and Furse. The Kelly Street fa├žade is an exceptional example of the interwar Functionalist style of architecture in New South Wales, and forms an important part of the streetscape.

The Functionalist interiors (overlaid in Art Deco detail) - the auditorium and foyers remain substantially unaltered, since the theatre has never been remodelled. The intact interiors means there is a high level of research and technical significance. It is one of the few cinemas remaining in New South Wales to retain its dress circle, and has not been converted into multiple cinemas. The interiors provide an important understanding of style and detailing of picture theatre architecture in the 1930s.

The two projectors are original and date from c.1938. These are of immense technical interest, may warrant further research. The original air-conditioning plant remains largely intact and has technical interest as an early example of full air-conditioning dating from 1938.

The Scone Civic Theatre was built for local public use by the local community therefore has a high level of social significance. Scone Theatres Pty Ltd, a company formed by residents of the district who financed the venture. The Civic Theatre has been a central part of the social and cultural life of the community in Scone and surrounding districts for over 60 years. One of the highlights of the cinema's history is that the Scone Civic Theatre hosted the Australian premiere of the Australian film "The Shiralee' in 1957.
Date significance updated: 14 Mar 07
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Guy Crick & Bruce Furse
Builder/Maker: Mr A. F. Little
Construction years: 1937-1938
Physical description: The Civic Theatre at Scone is a medium sized cinema designed in the interwar Functionalist (Moderne) style. The building is rendered brick with a fibrolite (corrugated asbestos sheet) roof. Ornament of the building is concentrated on the upper part of the building. The cinema features a stepped skyline on which the cinema's name - Civic - was promoted vertically in stylised lettering. A parallel line motif defines the top of the parapet and the buildings length giving a streamlined effect, and a large circular window dominates the left-hand side of the building, providing light to the crush lounge. The premises consists of the cinema auditorium and one retail shop (originally a milk bar).

Specifications of the cinema were described in the original licence as follows: The building is erected on reinforced concrete foundations, the walls are brick, and the roof construction wood. The roof will be covered with iron. The circle is supported by R. S. J. radials, the general construction being wood. The stairways are carried out in concrete. The height of the ceiling from the floor line is 23 ft. The overall size of the premises is 64ft x 126ft. The width of the auditorium is 45ft and the depth 82ft. The stage is 9ft in depth by 30ft in width. The depth of the gallery is 48ft. A foyer lounge is located above the shop. The foyer lounge is 16ft x 34 ft. The biograph room is situated at the rear of the circle. The ventilating machine is towards the rear of the premises and will be independently roofed. The cinema was to be heated and air-conditioned, one of the earliest cinemas to receive such treatment (Scone Civic Theatre - Licence No. 554. State Records Ref. 17/3283).

The interiors of the foyer, crush lounge and cinema auditorium are highly intact. Entrance to the foyer is via timber framed and glassed double doors with chrome handles. The glass is etched with Art Deco decorative elements and the letter "C". The foyer consists of a ticket booth and candy bar. The ticket booth is situated between the two sets of doors leading to the auditorium. It features metal frame detailing, including a geometric circular pattern, which is repeated in the stair balustrade leading to the crush lounge, and the stairs from the crush lounge to gallery level of the auditorium. The candy bar appears to be a later addition to the foyer. Near the stairs leading to the crush lounge are four Art Deco chairs and a cigarette table. While these may not be original, they contribute significantly to the Art Deco feel of the foyer interior. The crush lounge, which leads from the gallery level of the auditorium is a rectangular room, with a large circular window overlooking Kelly Street. It appears there was originally a bar/candy lounge in this space, however this has since been removed. An old fridge, with a painted logo of the cinema on the side remains. There are doors leading from the men's and women's toilets at the far end of the crush lounge. There are a range of original Art Deco light fittings in the foyer, crush lounge and auditorium. However, there are two chandeliers - one in the foyer and one in the crush lounge - which do not appear to be the original and may have been introduced at a later date.

The auditorium is a two level cinema, originally seating 808 people - 568 in the stalls and 240 in the dress circle. The seating in the stalls have been replaced, however there are still original seating in the gallery. The auditorium curves inwards towards the screen and stage, drawing the viewers eyes to the screen. All the original wall decoration remains intact. Of particular note are the abstract Expressionist geometric motifs that extend from the floor to the ceiling along the length of the auditorium. These streamlined geometric patterns are typical of the work of Crick and Furse.

The biograph room, at the rear of the circle, has two Simplex 35mm projectors with Peerless Magnarc carbonarc lamp houses dating from c.1938. The room also contains the original rectifier. The original air-conditioning plant is located on the external northern wall. This has since been replaced by modern air-conditioning.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building is of solid construction but is in need of substantial renovation, especially exterior and interior painting.
Date condition updated:06 Jan 03
Modifications and dates: 22/09/54 - Fire underneath stage severely damaging stage, screen, curtains, sound equipment, ceiling and roof. December 1954 - roof and ceiling had been repaired and stage was in the course of reconstruction. Theatre was also renovated and painted. Alterations made to the observation ports in the bio-box and new apparatus provided.
February 1955 - cream brocade curtains and a new wide screen installed.
10/06/57 - construction of engine room to house an auxiliary electricity generating plant.
New air-conditioning installed and new vents put into theatre (n.d)
1988 minor renovations took place.
Current use: Cinema
Former use: Cinema

History

Historical notes: The Scone Civic Theatre was designed by Guy Crick & Bruce W. Furse, architects, Sydney, in 1937 for the Scone Theatres Pty Ltd. The original design by Crick & Furse was an 899 seat cinema. However, this was scrapped and the cinema redesigned after the company was unable to procure the original site on Kelly Street that they wanted, An emended scheme was submitted in November 1937 by Crick and Furse for license approval under the Public Halls and Cinemas Cinemas Act of 1908.

The theatre was designed to seat 583 in the stalls and 246 in the circle, but was scaled back to seat 568 in the stalls and 240 in the dress circle, making the total seating capacity of 808. The tender of Mr. A. F. Little was accepted in November 1937, and building commenced in December. By February 1938, the foundations had been laid and the brickwork of the outside walls commenced. By the 18th July 1938 the cinema was virtually complete, with just the seats to be put into position, just in time for the official opening of the cinema. (Scone Civic Theatre , Licence No. 544, State Records Ref. 17/3283)

The building cost approximately 14,000 pounds to erect. The building contractor was Mr A F. Little, of Sydney. Mr H. Knight, of Annandale, did the painting and decorating and the electrician was Mr. G. H. Marshall, of Scone. The fibrous plasterers were Messrs. Rich and Co., Newcastle: vestibule and floor tiling; Roof and Building Service, Sydney; carpets, Mr A. Frederick Gibbs, and curtains, Mr G. Brakell. Sound equipment was supplied by R.C.A.: bio machines, National Theatre Supplies; seating, Owen Knox and Co; heating and ventilating, Unit Air Conditioners, Sydney; doors, and also the complete fittings of the milk bar, Mr J, Hill, Scone. (Scone Advocate, 29th July 1938)

The Civic Theatre was proclaimed and gazetted on 17 June 1938, and its licence issued on 17th August 1938. (Scone Civic Theatre , Licence No. 544, State Records Ref. 17/3283)

The Civic Theatre was leased to Mr. C. R. N. Owen, and the Gala Opening was on Wednesday 27th July 1938. The opening night was a charity function, with proceeds in aid of the Scott Memorial Hospital, in Scone. The Mayor of Scone, Ald. W.J. O'Brien, officiated at the event, after Mr H. C. Carter, M.L.A. for Liverpool Plains, couldn't attend due to illness. There were two films on the program "Stolen Heaven" and "A Bride for Henry" - which wore supplemented by shorts. (Scone Advocate 26th July 1938; 29th July 1938)

Scone Theatres Pty Ltd was formed in 1937 to construct the cinema. The directors of the company and its shareholders comprised of farmers and residents from the district. Chairman of the company, A.C. Ingham, explained at the opening night, "the theatre..had been built by the citizens of the town and district, by whom the whole of the requisite capital had been subscribed". The Company had shown its determination to cater for the entertainment of the people, and looked forward to a continuance of their patronage, which was so much appreciated in the evening. The Scone Advocate praised the company for their "boldness and faith and confidence in the town and district." (Scone Advocate, 29th July 1938) The directors of the company in 1937 were Arthur Centennial Inham, a grazier from Parklands; Herbett Ernest Ell Garside, a store keeper in Scone; and the alternate director was Maxwell Osmond Pye, a medical practitioner in based in Scone. (Dead Companies Records - Scone Theatres Pty Ltd, file no: 18596. State Records ref 17/9481)

The Civic Theatre was seen as a sign of progress and enterprise for Scone, "imposing and resplendent to a degree", "an ornament to the district, of which it will also remain one of the architectural features for many years to come". The Scone Advocate reported the theatre opened "in a blaze of splendour and colour". The design and fittings of the cinema were admired for being modern, efficient and comfortable." In the magnificent building, seating accommodation has been provided for approximately 1000 persons in stalls and circle (a slight exaggeration, as the cinema actually seated 808), while spacious foyer room and vestibules have been incorporated in the scheme. The auditorium has been portioned and designed so as to permit of the maximum acoustic properties being obtained, and is ornamented by a restrained application of features that blend with the artistic ceiling to give full effect to the colour combination provided by the Neon and concealed lighting, the mellowness, yet sufficiently colourfulness, of which is most effective." (Scone Advocate, 29th July 1938)

In particular, the theatre's air-conditioning was celebrated as a modem innovation. The Civic Theatre, as the newspaper was quirk to point out, was amongst the first cinemas in the state to have full air-conditioning. (Scone Advocate, 29th July 1938) The design, plans and specifications for the air-conditioning are deposited at NSW State Records in the file for Scone Civic Theatre - Licence No; 554. (NSW State Records Ref 20/14972)

On Wednesday 22 September 1954, just before 5pm, a fire broke out in the Civic Theatre. Theatre employees discovered the fire when they returned to the cinema to prepare for the evening programme. Scone Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to the cinema to put out the blaze, which had originated in the pit below the stage. It was unclear how the fire started, it being blamed on children smoking tobacco in the pit under the stage. Damage to the theatre was contained around the stage section of the auditorium. The stage, screen, curtains, sound equipment, ceiling and roof were severely damaged by fire, with the remainder of the building's contents being slightly damaged by heat, smoke and water. The Northern Daily Leader reported that the fire caused an estimated 5000 pounds damage to the theatre. After cleaning up and making a temporary canvass sheet roof, the Civic Theatre re-opened to patrons two days later on the Friday. (Scone Civic Theatre - Licence No. 554, State Records Ref 17/3283: Northern Daily Leader, 23rd September 1954).

The lessee, Mr Theo Coroneo, took the opportunity to renovate the cinema while building new fittings following the fire, By December 1954 the roof and ceiling had been repaired, and the stage was in the course of reconstruction. The Theatre was also renovated and painted. Alterations were made to the observation ports in the bio-box and new apparatus was provided. Cream brocade curtains and a new wide screen were installed in February 1955. (Board of Fire Commissions: Inspections Theatres and Halls, File No. 434 - Scone. State Records Ref: 20/14972)

The Scone Civic Theatre hosted the Australian premiere of the film "The Shiralee", in 1957. This film starred Peter Finch and was filmed in the Scone district. (Thorn et. Al., p.310)

In June 1957 an engine room to house an auxiliary electricity generating plant was constructed at the rear southern side of the cinema. It was constructed of concrete foundations and floor with timber frame and galvanised corrugated iron sheet walls and roof. (Scone Civic Theatre - Licence No. 554, State Records Ref 17/3283)

As noted above, the original lessee of the Civic Theatre from Scone Theatre Pty Ltd was C. R. N. Owen. According to the Scone Advocate , Mr Owen, had 'quite a chain of theatres in the country districts of the State". In the early days of the theatre, the local manager was Mr Ron Sutton, who had previously worked with Mr Owen at one of his enterprises down at Nowra. (Scone Advocate, 28th July 1938) In 1944, Alex Coroneo was listed as the exhibitor at the Civic Theatre. (Film Weekly Motion Picture Directory, 1943-44) The lease was then taken over by Theo Mena Coroneo and Sam Coroneo, and together the brothers ran the theatre until 1953, after which time Theo Mena Coroneo took over the licence and lease for himself. In May 1963 Theo Mena Coroneo purchased the Civic Theatre from Scone Theatres Pty Ltd, and as a consequence the company was wound up. The Civic Theatre has remained in the hands of the Coroneo family since 1963. (Scone Civic Theatre - Licence No. 554, State Records ref. 17/3283; Dead Companies Records - Scone Theatres Pty Ltd file no; 18596. State Records ref 17/9481.)

According to Ross Thorne et. Al., the Civic Theatre "closed around 1983-84, but reopened in 1988 after minor renovations. It closed again in 1992, but reopened the same year." (Thorne et. Al., p.310)

The firm of Crick and Furse - history by Roy Lumby.
Guy Crick (1901 - 1964) was born in Hobart and was educated in Melbourne. He attended the Technical College in Melbourne part-time for four years, then returned to Hobart in the early 1920s where he subsequently married. In the middle of the decade he moved to Sydney and managed to gain employment in the office of Henry Eli White, one of the most prolific and influential cinema and theatre designers in Australia during the 1920s. Here he would have become familiar with the Union Theatres (later Greater Union) and established a relationship with the company that enabled him to design cinemas for it up until the early 1960s. White closed his office at the onset of the Great Depression and so Crick went into partnership with the cinema specialist architect Charles Bohringer (Bohringer Taylor and Crick) in 1930. This was relatively short lived, Crick leaving the firm to form Crick & Associated. One of these was Bruce W. Furse, who had also worked in the Bohringer office.

Bruce Furse (1906 - 1967) was born in Strathfield, Sydney, and completed his architectural education at the Sydney Technical College. It is not known who Furse worked for as a young man, but he did not complete the course at the Technical College, instead qualifying to practice as an architect in 1933 after sitting for the Board of Architects of NSW examination.

The firm of Crick and Furse reputedly designed thirty new cinema buildings in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, and remodelled about fifty existing cinemas. Crick was influenced by German Expressionist architecture and interested in the interior design of cinemas, that is the furnishings, acoustics, and lighting, while Furse provided the basic lines of decoration and lighting.

After the partnership split up in 1940 Furse went into practice by himself. He carried out war related design and supervision, then after WWII established a practice known as Bruce. W. Furse & Associates. An accident in 1954 resulted in his early retirement from professional life. Crick also continued to practice, keeping his office open while serving in New Guinea during the war. After the war he went into partnership with Servas Van Breda, then practiced as Guy Crick & Associates and finally formed the partnership of Guy Crick, Lewis and Williams. He practiced in Brisbane and in Sydney.

According to Ross Thorne, the Minerva/Metro and West Olympia in Adelaide - both designed by Crick & Furse - were the two finest 'Moderne' style theatres in Australia. (Cinemas of Australia Via USA. P366)
Thorne, along with Kevin Cork, wrote of Crick & Furse "their influence on cinema building in Australia is immeasurable. The theatres they created represented all that was considered to be modern and comfortable." (All the Kings Men, p. 20).

After years of research, plans, reports and meeting approvals, stage one conservation works began in February 2017 - restoration of its exterior. A $40,000 grant from the Office of Environment & Heritage in 2016 will contribute c4% of the overall cost of the initial phase. Stage 2 will be ground floor internal refurbishment, making it available for use as a community multifunction centre with concealed modern conveniences (Murphy, 2017, 1).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant Places How are significant places marked in the landscape by, or for, different groups-Monuments and Sites
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of urban amenity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Holding film and stage premieres-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies of film and stage presentation-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in places of public entertainment-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going to the pictures/movies-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of formal community gatherings-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Guy Crick and Bruce Furse, 20th century picture theatre architects-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Guy Crick and Bruce Furse, 20th century picture theatre architects-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Scone Civic Theatre is historically significant as the last remaining intact theatre designed by prominent cinema architects, Crick and Furse in NSW.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Scone Theatre has strong associations with prominent cinema architects, Guy Crick and Bruce. W. Furse - prominent and important cinema architects in NSW during the 1930s.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The original air-conditioning plant has technical significance as an intact example of an early 20th century full air-conditioning system.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Scone Civic Theatre is culturally significant as it hosted the Australian premiere of the Australian film, "The Shiralee" filmed in and around Scone. This was an important cultural event in the growth and recognition of Australian film and of the Australian film industry.

The Scone Civic Theatre is socially significant at a local level.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The largely intact interior provides an important understanding of style and detailing of picture theatre architecture in the 1930s.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Scone Civic Theatre is rare as the last remaining intact theatre designed by cinema architects, Crick & Furse.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Scone Civic Theatre is representative of the work of the nationally important cinema architects, Crick and Furse.
Integrity/Intactness: The Functionalist interiors overlaid with Art Deco detail remain substantially unaltered, since the theatre has never been remodelled.
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

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0166021 Feb 03 493114
Heritage study     
National Trust of Australia register      

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Movie Theatre Heritage Register for NSW 1896-19961996 University of Sydney  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Scone Civic Theatre View detail
WrittenL. Murray & R. Lumby (20th Century Society)2001Scone Civic Theatre Classification Report
WrittenMurphy, Ben2017'Hard work pays off'
WrittenUniversity of Sydney1996Movie Theatre Register for NSW 1896-199

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5053894
File number: H03/00013


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