Athenium Theatre | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Athenium Theatre

Item details

Name of item: Athenium Theatre
Other name/s: Broadway Theatre, JADDA Centre
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Theatre
Location: Lat: -34.8680420155 Long: 147.5821193150
Primary address: The Broadway, Junee, NSW 2663
Parish: South Junee
County: Clarendon
Local govt. area: Junee
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Wagga Wagga
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT159DP10366
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
The BroadwayJuneeJuneeSouth JuneeClarendonPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Junee Shire CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Due to its now rarity, as a building-type, the Athenium Theatre symbolises, for the State, an association with past events, persons and groups who contributed or participated in an important and cultural phenomenon of the 20th century, namely 'movie going'.

Due to its rarity it symbolises the use of a cinema building as the social centre of a town with its being surrogate town hall. This and the role of the community (JADDA) organisation from 1976/7 accord the building the status of social significance for the State.

The building is highly representative as a good example of the design-work of theatre architects, Kaberry and Chard it being one of only three remaining relatively intact out of a large body of work across the State.

The building has as association with Greek immigrant business and benefactor, Sir Nicholas Laurantus, and through its rarity, symbolises his interests in cinema operation in the Riverina region.

It also is one of the few remaining buildings in NSW that has a direct connection with Gladys Moncrief OBE, and the country touring that she and lesser Australian stage artists did in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.

Of the 116 movie theatres operated by Greek immigrants in NSW, this one unusually possesses added decoration (presumably by George Laurantus, brother of Nicholas) in the form of a trellis and vine leaf motif. It provides a 'Greek overlay' to portion of the auditorium. This exhibits significance in aesthetic terms in relation to the importance of the Greek contribution to developing cinema operation in NSW
Date significance updated: 10 Oct 13
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: KABBERRY AND CHARD, Architects
Builder/Maker: J. NYSSEN
Construction years: 1929-1929
Physical description: The building in relation to its surroundings:
The centre of Junee is the railway station, and its ten or so rail tracks which indicate the importance of the railway as the main junction for the Riverina districts westward (Leeton, Narrandera, Griffith as far as Hillston, and down to Jerilderie). To the east of the line there is a tightly built group of buildings mostly constructed up to the 1920s the Railway Square and along Lorne Street from Waratah to Belmore Street, and in the block bounded by Belmore, Denison and Lisgar Streets. This has an intimate visual historic quality, not so frequently found in NSW towns (one exception being the main street of Gulgong).

At the northern end of the railway station is a level crossing that enters the western side of the line at the obtuse angle intersection of Seignoir Street and the Broadway, or Broadway Street, - that runs off in a north-western direction. The first block of the Broadway, from Seignoir to Crawley Street, is an exceptionally wide, dual carriageway with a central landscaped area on which, at the railway end, is the Town Clock War Memorial Cenotaph, followed by a row of well-established palm trees. Although there are some important buildings in the next block on the north-eastern side of the street and across to Junction
Street (eg former Broadway Hotel and Red Cow Hotel), it is the first block from the railway line that appears to have most historical interest. On the north-east side is the rather extraordinarily long stretch of the Broadway Stores building with its unusually deep footpath verandah. It would contain one of the few 'emporium' or department store buildings of
Edwardian times, still in existence in NSW.

On the south-western side of this important short section of The Broadway is the Hotel Junee (1912), with its two storey verandah, at the intersection with Seignoir Street; the Art Nouveau-cum-Edwardian bank building, the solicitors offices, the Athenaeum Theatre and the former Junee Southern Cross printery. At the corner of Crawley Street (named after the
man who was originally granted the land) is a three-storey block of Housing Commission flats (circa 1950s). With the exception of the solicitor's offices and the printery, and the other buildings mentioned, each has a bulk that is needed to provide some impact and scale to the imposing street-space. (In the next block, on the same side of the street, this is entirely missing with a scale that fades away into visual inconsequence). Due to high ceilings, parapets, and / or high-pitched roofs, the Hotel Junee, bank building, and Athenaeum Theatre provide a height that is even greater than the three-storey block of flats.

As one looks at the stretch of buildings on that side of the block, the printery is the first that an architect and many lay persons considers is suitable for demolition for its quality of design. But then, upon hearing that it has been the source of a century of local and important national news (such as wartime reports), the building's heritage significance becomes extremely significant for the town, and, of course is essential to retain.

Two doors towards the railway is the Athenaeum Theatre. It possesses a wide, imposing front, similar to many theatres that used to exist in towns that were mostly larger than Junee and in the more populated suburbs of Sydney now almost all gone. Its landmark quality is observed when one enters the town from the north and glances across the railway crossing.
(Anecdotally, a Civil Aviation Safety Authority middle management person of late 30's or early 40's, staying at the same motel as the assessor, related how he arrived early and decided to walk around the town. It's a great little town", he said, then added excitedly, there's even an old theatre down there", pointing in the direction of the Broadway.)

The Exterior:
The building is substantial, built in brick with a cement-rendered faade. There is a hung cantilevered awning with a deep fascia, below which are two shopfronts and doors to the theatre. The awning fascia and soffit appear to have been replaced in recent years. The shops have glass show-windows and tiled piers and plinths which have been over-painted. Glazed doors to the theatre are at the north-western end of the front and, if not original, appear to contain original leadlight upper panes. Above the awning are double piers (or 'slimmed-down' pilasters) at each end supporting an entablature and small cornice. A little
below the entablature is a row of seven windows. Two, each end, light the rear of the dress circle; the central three (the central one currently blocked out) are for the projection box. In size, they are all functional, but their composition, in relation to the whole faade was originally dependent upon the theatre sign, on a dark panel, with one lamp above, and bracketed lamps between the twin piers at each end. If the proportion of some of the windows may seem strange today, there was originally a unifying effect through the repetition of the same pane proportion and size. Each window was a multiple of the same
size and shape pane in what appear to have been steel framed, modern industrial-type windows of the time (1920s). Apart from one being blocked out completely, most of the others have had large pane replacements, quite unsympathetic to the original. The pane proportion on the original was important for it is close to those in Georgian buildings in NSW, such as Macquarie Fields', or Glenfield houses. But unlike the windows in these early 19th century houses the repetition of panes is different. The Georgian examples are three across and four up, whereas those larger of the seven windows at the Athenaeum Theatre have four
across, to suit the casement of steel framed windows, and four up. The multi-pane windows should be reinstated to suit the classical style of the building.

Apart from the spherical opalescent ball lamps bracketed out from the faade wall, there were originally three more, supported on metal decorative standards, about one metre tall off the top of the parapet wall. (These are visible in photos of the Broadway circa 1933, and circa 1938). Only one existed on the parapet in a 1954 photograph. In addition, the parapet was outlined in neon tubing, as too was the sign-panel, together with vertical decorative neon on each of the four piers. Around the outer edges of the underside of the awning was a continuous white-way strip of neon (according to Mrs Kingsford-Archer, formerly Manion,
who operated the theatre from 1954 59).

The sides of the building did not originally possess windows but, instead, had vertically sliding timber framed and sheeted panels (or shutters). The position of the runners can be seen on the brickwork. The panels would be slid down partially or wholly at night for ventilation, the total opening being the size of the current glazed area. The panels were also divided into timber "panes" of Georgian proportion. The present aluminium-framed windows appear serendipitous, without much consideration for the original design.

Over the 74 year history of the building the toilets, at the rear, have 'progressed' from unsewered outhouses to sewered brick additions with access from within the building.

Architectural style of the exterior:
The faade of the theatre is what might be termed 'slimmed-down classical'. Before Art Deco style hit Australia this earlier design expresses that transition between Classical and lack-ofdecoration Functional. It was obviously not influenced by theatre architecture of USA which was overlaid with decoration and, by 1930, was just beginning to change Classical, Renaissance, Mayan, Spanish, Tudor, Moorish and Chinese decor to Art Deco without a pause for the Modern Movement that emanated from Europe. It would be 1932 when USA recognised the Modern Movement that they termed the "International Style (Hitchcock and
Johnson, 1932/1966). Even in Britain only a few picture theatres were being designed with more simplicity in 1929. There was the Pavilion at Shepherds Bush, London, in 1923 it winning an award from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) with large expanses of plain brick walling beneath its classical cornice. The Odeon at Kensington, London, (1926) showed a design style moving away from classical, but still with a cornice and entablature (Atwell, 1980:54,58) As many Australian architects belonged to the RIBA or subscribed to English architectural journals, Kaberry (originally an Englishman) and Chard may well have
pored over these 'less pure' and somewhat simplified classical designs. Depending upon the journals seen at the time it may have been that the architects were more influenced by Swedish design which went from classical adornment to minimalist classical, almost unadorned buildings, from 1925 to 1930 (Furberg, 2000: 237,150,165). Certainly such simplicity preceded the arrival of the Modern Movement Expressionist designs of Eric Mendelsohn the most influential being the Universum Cinema, Berlin, of 1928 that so influenced Guy Crick and Bruce Furse in their Kings Theatres designs from 1935 (Thorne &
Cork, 1994: introduction).

The Interior:
The front lobby is small with the principal stair to the dress circle to the right, against the sidewall. The original ticket box, (of glass front and sides above a small 'counter', about 900mm cross, 1300mm deep and a shade over two metres high) was freestanding in the space (YKA, 2003). It was removed in 1978. There is, at present a 'hole-in-the-wall' ticket window in
the wall of the stairway. Plain wide double doors provide access to the stalls level of the auditorium. The stalls floor is timber, flat for dancing and indoor sports activities (from 1978). The portion of the dress circle cantilevered over the back stalls is supported by a deep, plated rolled steel joist (T&PH files), spanning some 12 metres (or further if the walls to the two rooms each side of the back stalls are not structural. The architects have used an unusual method of 'hiding' the beam by curving the ceiling down from the rear stalls wall to the soffit of the beam, then curving up again to the edge of the circle.

The plan shape of the dress circle is typical of the work of the architects, Kaberry and Chard. In the early 1920s, their circle balustrade designs (with their straight central portions curved around each side to side boxes) were in plaster with swags of classical ornament and cartouches. From about 1927 they simplified the design to unadorned flat panelling (as at
the Magnet Theatre, Lakemba demolished; Montreal, Tumut). The panels here at Junee have been decorated by persons other than the architects. The side boxes designed by the architects in their theatres finished or abutted theatrically false splayed walls in some classically-based design, as is here these comprising only one of two examples that still exist (the other being the Roxy, Leeton).

The original proscenium was a 'picture frame', using diagonal strapwork as the decorative motif. In 1959 this was removed, together with the required amount of wall, to widen the opening by close on 3 metres for Cinemascope presentations. At the same time the height of the opening was lowered. This was constructed in lightweight materials. Some form of applied panelling would alleviate the 'plain-ness' and better fit in with the general theme of the interior.

The walls are rough-cast plaster with classical "egg and dart" on an ovolo cornice moulding. The inside of the wall shutters are marked out in battens with a typical geometric pattern, as used since Roman times. It is the same as on the upper panes of the street doors a cross, over which are diagonals. (They are seen on grillework as painted on walls depicting theatres in Rome and Pompeii, and used by Richard C Beacham in his replicas of early Roman stages at Warwick University).

In the introduction of the Movie Theatre Heritage Register for New South Wales, 1896 1996 five stages of building development for cinema design are described. In the teens and early twenties of the 20th century in NSW, most suburban and country cinemas had the rooftruss structure fully visible with either no ceiling or one immediately beneath the roofing
material. This was the case for the early version of the Enmore Theatre, the Australian cinema at Spit Junction (demolished), and Odeon, Randwick (demolished). This was referred to as Stage Three development.

Stage Four development occurred from the late teens, up until the Great Depression. It was when some theatrical decoration was being added. The Movie Theatre Heritage Register particularly mentions the architects, Kaberry and Chard as key people in this development. They brought the ceiling down to be at the level of the lower chord of the truss, but still expressing that chord as a 'beam'. It was, however, almost universal not to take the lower chord to the springing point off the walls but connect it some three or four metres along the upper chord of the truss. This provided the necessary height for projection from the rear dress circle over the audience, and for an imposing proscenium. As a result, there is a sloping segment of the ceiling each side of the central flat section. It also meant that side walls could be lower than if a complete flat ceiling was designed, and of course, it was more economical, something of which Kaberry and Chard were well aware of (see K&C, 1936). This technique, however, produced the risk of the extension of the upper chord beyond the lower chord (of the truss) deflecting and pushing the side walls out. To prevent this, these and other architects installed tension rods from the springing point up, on a more shallow rake, to be fixed some distance along the lower chord of the truss. These rods were exposed as at the Athenium Theatre. It was only after the Great Depression when a new style of decorative architecture later known as Art Deco took hold, that the whole truss, including the tension or tie rods, were covered beneath by generally, plaster ceilings. (The sloping side segments including the tie rods were now hidden by stepped plasterwork).

The other rather clever solution to the economic confines, presented by suburban and country cinema designs, was to visually express the subsidiary beams that tied the trusses together, and the system of panelling required for the lining material. This was done at the Athenaeum with all the structural and panel-framing picked out in a dark tone so the whole
became a decorative geometric pattern. The horizontal section of the ceiling was divided into three segments across the width of the building. In the opposite direction the five roof trusses formed four segments, thus 12 panels were formed. In each there were nine smaller panels a large central panel of lattice-work surrounded by four small square corner panels and four elongated rectilinear side panels. Wooden lattice-work had been used for centuries in middle-eastern (Arab) countries, but appeared as a form of decoration in England in 16th century windows and in 18th and 19th century furniture. It was used in ceilings of picture
theatres as a means of allowing stale hot air to escape into the roof space and through roof ventilators. Unfortunately this decorative ceiling was compromised in, it is assumed, 1978, when a plain ceiling lining either covered it or replaced it.
The remaining elements of the interior are the stage, dress circle and conversion of the two shops as annexes to the auditorium.

The stage is relatively small to avoid the stringent rules for fire control, yet provide enough space for live performance. The widening of the opening in 1959 permitted a screen size larger than that in many suburban, country and even capital city theatres.

The dress circle with access from the lobby on one side, possesses an emergency exit stair on the other, also against the side wall. Whereas the stalls only ever had removable seating in banks (to clear away for social functions), the circle has upholstered fixed seating with wooden arm rests as was typical for the 1930s. The capacity for this portion of the auditorium commenced at some 400 but has been reduced to somewhere between 200 and 300. The seats need re-upholstering and repair. The projection box was minimum in size when constructed, and would need to be extended sideways to provide adequate facilities for projection and lighting control for live shows.

The two shops at the side of the theatre entry have been converted into a store for chairs, mainly, and a kitchen / refreshment bar that opens into the back stalls area. The latter work and some external painting was completed in 1998 at a cost of $28,000, some of which funds was from the NSW Heritage Office.

Decoration:
The architects had, at the time of construction of the theatre, great integrity in the use of classical style and its ornamentation. They were also being slightly influenced by Functionalism, but only slightly. What has been confusing to observers of the interior are two elements of Art Deco style, and embellishments to the panels on the balustrade-front of the dress circle, and on the false side-of-stage walls. It is contended that the Art Deco dado moulding and centre-piece of side false-wall panels (and as a ceiling rose in the lobby) were added after construction. Art Deco decoration did not become apparent in theatres in Australia until after the Great Depression (ie from 1933 onwards) yet this theatre was designed in late 1928 to early 1929, being completed in October that year.

The corner and central motifs of the dress circle panels are of an impression of trellis-work over which is a spray of vine leaves. The central motif had an inverted shell-like light fitting affixed, as seen in 1954 photographs. These photographs depict a sheen in these panels that appears metallic. Blanche Heffernan (formerly Cummins), related that the decoration
was "all gold" (B.H. 2003).

Peter Laurantus (in 2003) mentioned that his father, George, and mother worked hard together without employees to get the theatre up and running during the Depression (it commencing in New York only two weeks after opening the theatre). Although the Depression may have had an effect on attendance, Entertainment Tax receipts showed a decline in audiences across Australia towards the end of the 1920s. Perhaps the enthusiasm for silent films was waning. However, despite the Depression, receipts began to grow soon after sound films were introduced (1929 30, depending upon the theatre). By 1934 new cinemas were being built to cater for the growing trade. In 1935 George Laurantus and his elder brother, Nicholas, had obviously accumulated profits from their theatres, and wanted to be in this expansion, so built the Rio Theatre at Lockhart. It
possessed stock Art Deco ornamentation, one of which is identical to that at the Junee theatre. Another, a strip as diaper decoration, is similar to the second Art Deco ornament at Junee the dado line. The Lockhart theatre had other painted decoration and rough-cast plaster in free swirls that appeared to be very Mediterranean, most possibly Greek in character. (The Laurantus brothers were born on the island of Kythera and came to Australia as immigrants).

The trellis and vine motifs may represent basket willow (or similar) trellises upon which grape vines were trained in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Greece. According to the Australian Greek architect, Chris Tsioulos, the vine (and these appear to be akin to Shiraz grape vine leaves) is a traditional feature of Greek life and decoration. Certainly Charles Pickett, architecture curator at the Powerhouse Museum has not so far been able to identify the motif from the Wunderlich pressed metal catalogues.

When Albert Thomas Manion purchased the theatre from Mr and Mrs P ollard in 1954 for his son, the then Mrs Manion (Y.K-A, 2003) asked about this unusual decoration and was told that it was put there by "the Greeks", meaning George Laurantus, or he and his older brother Nicholas. (From conversations with George's children it was Nicholas who called the shots until after World War II when George bought into a theatre on his own).

It is contended that the dado decoration (possibly replacing a timber dado moulding similar to that at the Montreal Theatre, Tumut), the second Art Deco motif (used as a centre-piece backing plate for lamps on the false splayed walls), the vine-leaf elements and the rough plasterwork above the dado moulding, and as backing for the vine-leaf elements, were all
added around 1935. The less-rough plaster below the dado moulding is similar to that at the Tumut theatre, the material above is quite different. Judging by its covering some of the edge of the egg-and-dart cornice moulding it would appear to have been added after that moulding had been affixed (ie in 1929).

Peter Laurantus has told me that his father loved managing the Junee theatre. Perhaps, when attendances picked up, with the establishments of sound films, and funds became available, he wanted to put his 'Greek stamp' on the theatre. In the late thirties he wanted to remain at the theatre but the elder brother, to put it in his son's word, forced George to leave and work on Nicholas' property outside of Narrandera.

The name of the theatre, albeit a corrupted spelling, also has Greek connotations being the temple of the goddess Athene, which was used for teaching. Within the original proscenium hung deep blue curtains with a large applique of overlapped letters, A and T in a highly decorative form on each of the two drapes. They also had a wide gold band a little up from the hemline. From an early photograph, a valance appears to have three crossed-hammer motifs on it. The arches in the false splayed walls had full length dark blue repp fabric curtains with bottom gold fringe and draped gold cords and tassels near the top.
The present curtains are blue for the stage and nothing in the archways.

The former heritage adviser for Junee Shire Council, David Scobie, believes the present colouring of the false splayed walls and dress circle front was done at the time of the making of the film The Crossing (1990). A photo on the Theatres and Public Halls administration files, taken after it had become the JADDA Centre, shows a colour scheme of grey, white and blue (the dado moulding being blue). In The Crossing, for the dancing competition scene, the dado moulding is bright red and the walls white to off-white. The dress circle front is not shown in the film but its current finish certainly appears to have been done by a scenic
artist to provide an 'antique' metallic impression. The dado moulding has returned to being blue (with earlier gold showing through) but the lower portions of the walls are cream. The ceiling and upper walls appear to be as when painted circa 1978 (for the JADDA).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Surface inspection shows the general condition of the building to be good. Some restoration would be
advisable
Modifications and dates: Unknown date circa 1933-35 of added decoration producing a layering of Greek influence. 1959 when the original proscenium was removed, as done in almost all cinemas, to produce a wider opening for the presentation of wide screen format films. --- some intrusion 1978 A new ceiling covered or replaced the decorative but functional timber battening and lattice-work
panelled ceiling. --- some intrusion.

Removal of surface-attached light fittings, including exterior neon lighting --- little intrusion except visually (easily replaced).
Current use: Currently operating as a Community Hall
Former use: Cinema & Shopping

History

Historical notes: Local newspaper records are few, and often far between. Published three times a week, extant copies may have had a few short runs of one a week, one a month or occasionally one a year. However, such randomness does provide an indication of the use of the Athenaeum Theatre, although unfortunately, important copies, that might describe the theatre at its opening, are missing. Reliance has been placed on the records of inspections for and correspondence of the Theatres and Public Halls Branch, first under the Chief Secretary's Department and later, Administrative Services, and then Local Government.
A number of interviews have been made, the information from which has been tantalising if no corroborating evidence has been found. There is a vagueness about the original partnership and ownership of the theatre (when it was built) that only a Land Titles search might sort out. Although a request was made of a commercial 'searcher' time has prevented it being completed. Searching for company directors also seems to elude commercial searchers, who only wish to find anything since records have been put on computer.

Following a brief chronology, a history of the theatre follows, then shorter notes on the key players the Laurantus brothers and the Greek immigrant importance to cinema history in NSW the architects, Kaberry and Chard and the social history of picture theatres in NSW.

Chronology:
c.1894. Gearge Laurantus was born in Kythera, Greece. (His brother, Nicholas was five
years his senior.)
c.1909. George emigrates to Australia, first working In Sydney, then for brother Nicholas who had bought a cafe in a country town, then the Globe Theatre, Narrandera.
1925. Nicholas Laurantus's Globe Theatre is destroyed by fire. He rebuilds.
1927. The new Globe Theatre opens. Nicholas wishes to develop a 'chain' of cinemas as a means of getting a better deal on film hire.
C.1928. Nicholas joins Ben Cummins, Junee, to build a new theatre in the Broadway; he puts brother George in charge of the Lyceum and overseeing the building of the new theatre.
1929. In May, Theatres and Public Halls gives approval to build.
On 10th October the theatre opens as the Athenium Theatre.
1935. Nicholas and Gearge build the Rio Theatre at Lockhart.
1939. Nicholas decides to buy a property outside of Narrandera, decides to sell his theatre interest in Junee, forces George to give up management of the Athenium to go out and manage the property while Nicholas resides in town.
C.1940. Robert Tilby Begg takes over the theatre.
1950. R J and E E Pollard buy and run the theatre, renaming it Broadway.
1954. The Pollards sell on to Albert Thomas Manion for his son Kevin and daughter-in-law, Yvonne to manage (purchase price 28 000 pounds $56 000).
1958. The theatre is transferred into a company, Broadway Theatre (Junee) Pty Ltd, of which Kevin Manion and Thomas A Wah are directors
1959. The proscenium is removed, as was the custom to provide a wider opening for Cinemascope presentation.
Kevin Manion sells out to a T A Wah who is sole owner under the company until 1971.
1971. Theatre licence is cancelled --- up for sale.
1977-8. Bought by Junee and District Development Association for $20 000 --- makes the Junee and Illabo Councils trustees (virtual owners) of the property as tenants in common. Alterations to make it useful for indoor sports as well as social events, costing $45 000. Funding by community donations.
A new licence is issued.
1984. Junee Council appears to be taking greater interest. Theatres and Public Halls iniates a search as to who or what actually owns the building.
1990. Theatres and Public Halls Act is repealed and a new Act transfers licensing, inspections etc to local councils.
1998. The exterior is repainted, the refreshment bar kitchen is re-equipped at a cost of $28 000.
2002/3. The Junee Shire Council wishes to demolish the theatre.

History of the Building and its Management:
According to the 1871 Census, Junee did not exist, but a village of Loftus did, changing its name in 1885 (Horwitz, 1964: 533).

The railway line was opened to the North Wagga terminus in 1878, and in April 1879 the Parliament of NSW approved construction of a railway from Junee to Narrandera, with ultimate extension to Hay. The line to Narrandera opened on 28th February 1881 (and on to Hay on 4th July 1882) thus making Junee the embryo of an important rail head (Lee, 1988:
86). In July 1881, an extension from Narrandera to Jerilderie became government policy (Lee, 1988: 101) and opened in 1884, with extensions to Berrigan (1896) and Tocumwal on the Victorian border in 1914 (Preston, 2001: 4). Extensions to Leeton (1912) and Griffith (1916) provided considerably more produce that would pass through Junee, either south via
Albury or north to Sydney for export (Horwitz, 1964: 591, 448).

An imposing railway station was built in 1883 with a two storey portion that originally housed a residential hotel as well as a travellers' dining room. It is still the centre of town and where there is a driver changeover on trains that ply between Melbourne and Sydney (it being precisely at the mid-way point on the railway line).

Even if an official name change did not occur until 1885, the Census for Junee of 1881 provides a population of 538 persons. Until the 1980s Junee was always a town council. Therefore its population in the early Census', where only local government area populations were provided, can be accurately compared to the urban district populations presented since World War II. The town showed a rapid growth to 1901 (2190 persons) no doubt due to the railway maintenance, transhipment of goods, and new works. By 1921 a slight decline in population is shown (1915 pe rsons) but then there is a considerable rise to 1933 (4213 persons). In 1963 the population was claimed to be 4500 people (Horwitz, 1964: 533). In 1947, the largest engine 'storage' and repair roundhouse in the Southern Hemisphere was built at Junee. Around fifty years later it was closed, but fortunately prevented from demolition by local residents who have taken it over a museum and small repair workshop. The railway 'industry' has almost disappeared from the town, and what was thought to be a partial replacement a prison has not brought the quantity of anticipated benefits. By the 2001 Census, the town population had dropped to 3592 persons. However the town's
residents have a spirit and sense of his tory and heritage that has been impressive. Private citizens have taken over and restored and / or reused buildings such as the local mansion of the original 'landed gentry', Monte Christo, the flour mill (now the liquorice factory), the late Victorian Loftus Hotel, and of course the engine roundhouse. The latest, in September
2003, is the printery of the Junee Southern Cross newspaper that had existed for a century (Southern Cross, 4/9/03:6). The Junee Shire Council was sold the Broadway Hotel for the equivalent of a 'peppercorn', and this typical country, two-storey verandah'd hotel will now house the local historical society and museum.

Into this environment of a seemingly odd mixture of farming community, railway workers and local town professional and tradespeople, arrived the cinema. For over fifty years before the coming of local television in 1964, cinema, as in other country towns, cities and suburbs, would provide not only entertainment but tacit cultural learning in behaviour, design, fashion, and current events. All the cinema venues in Junee would also provide the facility for live entertainment and social events, such as balls and receptions, since all possessed 'flat' floors.

Unfortunately, the existence of the local Junee Southern Cross newspaper from late 19th century to the 1950s is not in continuous runs in fact there is only a miscellany of infrequent copies available on microfilm. Commencing reviewing the microfilm at 1917 it was noted that The Globe was showing films in that year. This was a small hall in Lisgar Street where Blanche Heffernan (formerly Cummins) performed as a child in a school concert (about 1923). Globe Pictures were shown on Tuesday and Saturday (JSC, 24/5/18). By 1922, Lyceum Pictures were also showing in the larger Lyceum Hall, also in Lisgar Street
(JSC, 23/10/22). The Globe appeared to disappear from the available newspaper advertisements from 1924 while the Lyceum continued with films and live shows, such as The Sheik in four acts direct from St James and Palace Theatres, Sydney for Monday 17th October 1927 (JSC, 12/10/27).

The Cummins' family of Junee owned the Lyceum. Ben Cummins decided to seek a partnership with some local cinema entrepreneur to build a new picture theatre. He consulted a brother-in-law, Jack Cavellas (who himself was a cinema entrepreneur and subsequently merged his assets with Hoyts Theatres). It seemed that Cavellas had misgivings about Ben Cummins forming a partnership with Nicholas Laurantus, but Cummins did, resulting in his becoming a 'silent' partner in the deal. The new theatre would be under the control of Nicholas Laurantus, but with the day-to-day management by his younger brother, George.

George settled in Junee as soon as he married in 1928 (P.L. 2003). He assumed management of the Lyceum Theatre and it might have been when there that he showed the locally produced film, The Cossacks, on Monday 5th November 1928. A news item in the Junee Southern Cross noted that it was one of the best pictures filmed in Junee for some
years. The reviewer continued It was really good. It was mentioned that it was produced by the management of the Lyceum; it had good photography, lots of action, love scenes, and lasted one hour (JSC, 7/11/28). Unfortunately, other records of this or any films made in Junee during the silent era do not appear to exist.

The available copies of newspapers are so few that there may be gaps of whole years of publication in those on record. Yet, the few random issues that are available indicate the wide range of use of the theatre venues for live shows, benefits and dances. For example, the three issues available for 1929 indicate that the Lyceum was still showing films in January, with the Joybell Troubadours performing next Wednesday (JSC, 23/1/29); talkie equipment was being installed at the State Theatre, Sydney in April (JSC, 17/4/29), and the Athenium Theatre was to be on the tour of Rio Rita, with Gladys Moncrief and a company of
90, in the Fuller's Theatres Sydney production (JSC, 28/11/29). To discover more about the new theatre one must go to the Theatres and Public Halls files at the State Records Office, Kingswood (Series 15318, Item No 1069, Broadway Theatre, Junee, 1/1/29 to 31/12/72) referred to below as T&PH.

Approval was given for erection of the new theatre on 1st May 1929. The architects, Kaberry and Chard, wrote to say the theatre was about half completed by early July. George Laurantus, from his office at the Lyceum, wrote on 5th October seeking permission to open on the 10th of that month. The local police, representing Theatres and Public Halls, were asked to make an inspection to see that the theatre complied with the Departments requirements, and if so, allow it to open today (telegraph T&PH, 10/10/29). The full report by the police at Junee on 17th October gave the seating capacity as dress circle 410 and
stalls 600. A licence was granted to G. Laurantus for general entertainment purposes from 10th October 1929 for 1010 persons. Notes from Les Tod indicate the builder to be J Nyssen.

From the one available newspaper for 1933 and another from 1934 it appears that the movies were on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a change of program on Friday Saturday (JSC, 9/10/33; 13/6/34). Peter Laurantus related that from the opening until the birth of their first child in 1931 his father and mother did everything his father doing the sign-writing for
the film attractions (on the front of the awning), booking films, despatching them and projecting them. His mother sold tickets and retained the records for the entertainment tax and film hire (particularly percentage) charges. In 1931, Blanche Heffernan, formerly Cummins became employed in the ticket office. She was the seventeen year old daughter of Ben Cummins (the "silent partner" in the venture), and remained working at the theatre until she married in December, 1936.

The theatre opened two weeks before the New York stock market crash, and the Great Depression that followed. But the taxable admission figures for 1928 were showing a decline in admissions to picture theatres before the Depression. Perhaps the novelty of silent films was wearing thin, particularly as wireless was now developing. The Laurantus' had to work hard, but fortunately, after an initial poor quality, sound films rapidly improved and even with the Depression attendances quickly rose. From Census figures for income and employment for 1933, Junee was in a considerably better position than many other
towns and shires. Even so Blanche Heffernan remembers how itinerants, looking for work, but only being allowed to stay in a town for one or two nights before being moved on, were allowed to come into the theatre and stand at the back for a while in order to warm themselves up. Farmers, who were possibly 'doing it tougher' than, say, railway employees, were allowed to come in at half time and half price to see the main movie.

In one of the regular police reports to T&PH (11/2/38) on maintenance of the theatre, it was noted that movies were shown six days a week except for about seven times a year when dances or concerts were held (on single nights). In a note by George Laurantus, he says that the theatre is used for a Saturday matinee and every night (T&PH, 8/10/38). With the Sunday Observance Act in operation at the time this would mean Monday to Saturday for showing films with perhaps a free event such as a concert by one of the church choirs on Sunday. Blanche Heffernan remembered that every church had a ball, the ambulance would present plays, Sorley's touring variety show would perform at the theatre, as too would McKays'. The locals put on The Mikado on year. As late as the 1960s, White Horse Inn was being performed for a three-night season (Junee: Speaking of the Past, Vol. 3: 144, 145). Of course during World War II, the only visual news was via the filmed newsreels,
both Australian and International editions; there were also special advertising films and foyer posters to encourage patrons to buy War Bonds and War Savings Certificates; and there were the patriotic balls, concerts and competitions such as the Spitfire [fighter aircraft] Queen Competition of 1941, with its crowning ceremony at the Athenium Theatre (Ibid: 192).

The theatre was also used during the daytime, its flat floor in the stalls being suitable for dancing lessons. Blanche Heffernan taught ballet there two days a week until she married and moved to her husband's farm.

Since its opening George L. had an eye for good publicity. Advertisements in the local newspaper became large with large type so they could not be missed. He would shift his programs to suit the films available and his audience. By the start of 1935 he was having a "bargain night on Monday with one program, a second program on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and a third program on Friday, Saturday. Each would be a double-bill feature program with newsreel, travelogue or carton, a serial for the weekend, and of course, trailers for coming attractions. All films were transhipped by train to and from different distributors,
and to and from different towns, with about 50 percent coming from and being despatched back to Sydney. This meant receiving and despatching from Junee station some fifteen or sixteen films per week.

The Athenium had another link with the railway (apart from film delivery). In the Junee Southern Cross for 11th February 1935 there is an advertisement for the Junee Railway Jubilee Gala Performance for Wednesday 20th of that month. There was to be a film at 7:00pm, followed by presentation of service medals to railway employees by the Chief Commissioner of Government Railways, then a concert and dancing until 1:00am the next morning. The last included the finals and judging of the National Dancing Competition. This six hour marathon concert illustrates how the Athenium Theatre doubled up as a town hall.

Picture theatres, in those times, did not possess their own candy bar. Often there would be a small shop in the theatre building that was a milk-bar, but this could rarely cater for the crowd that rushed out at interval between the two feature films. At Junee, Allan McEwan, Dal Eisenhauer and Blanche Heffernan remember how a few early exiting patrons would get into the small milk-bar in the shop next to the theatre lobby, but the great rush was across the two roadways and the garden strip to the Allies Cafe in the Broadway Stores building to get a milkshake, cordial drink, ice cream, a bar of chocolate or packet of Minties (no popcorn
or coffees). Sensibly, the same Greek proprietor ran both milk-bars, thus maximising his business.

George Laurantus renewed the licence in 1938, still a manager, but in September 1940, the renewal application is by Robert Tilby Begg as owner (T&PH, 17/2/38, 8/10/38, 19/9/40). A search at the Land Titles Office is required to discover the transfer date. Upon calculating from the year of birth of his daughter and her age when she left Junee, the Laurantus family would have left the town around the end of 1939 (Paula Tumley, formerly Laurantus, 31/8/03).

In 1941 the toilets were supposed to be connected to the recently reticulated town sewer (T&PH, 10/10/41). In 1942 Robert Begg is castigated by Theatres and Public Halls for changing the seating plan without prior approval. He reduced the stalls to 475 and the circle to 386 (T&PH, 27/3/42; 15/5/42). Once the toilet situation was mentioned in 1941, it became a saga with the authority which wanted changes and upgrades. It was finally settled in 1947 according to a July police report on the T&PH file. On 29th March 1950, Begg agreed to transfer the licence (No 50580 for the Athenium Theatre) to R.J. and E.E. Pollard, another husband and wife team who write to say they are the owners (T&PH, 11/4/50).

Mr and Mrs Pollard renamed the theatre the Broadway, according to the licence issued on 10th October 1950 (T&PH). The Pollards said they were the owners on 11th April that year, but it is on 8th March 1952 that the Pollards sign under the letterhead banner of the Broadway Theatre Company. They were reporting the destruction of a spool of film by fire in the top magazine of the projector (T&PH).

The Pollards sold the theatre to Albert Thomas Manion on 28th September 1954 (T&PH) for (Pounds)28,000 ($56,000) according to his daughter in law. (YK-A, 2003). As with earlier owners it was a husband and wife team who operated the theatre. They were the son, Kevin, and Yvonne, Kevin Manion selecting films and projecting, while his wife worked in the ticket box and did the accounting (although once she made a wide projection screen by joining two screens on a Singer Sewing Machine with two men supporting the large heavy material). Chairs were becoming 'tatty' and inspections showed that some needed reupholstering
(T&PH, 11/1/57). On 29th December 1958 the Fire Brigade, in one of its regular reports, noticed the proscenium opening being enlarged to permit a wider screen, Theatres and Public Halls wrote back to Mr Albert Thomas Manion, as licence-holder, pointing out that work could not proceed without approval (T&PH, 14/1/59).

Earlier in 1958 the Registrar General's Land Titles Office showed a transfer to the Broadway Theatre (Junee) Pty Ltd (with a mortgage to the Commercial Bank of Australia) on 30th May (T&PH Item file 81/0109). From a letterhead for correspondence about the theatre, dated 5th February 1959, the company directors are shown as T.A. Wah and K.C. Manion (T&PH). Yvonne Kingsford-Archer says that this new arrangement was organised when Mr Manion senior wished to withdraw. She had reservations about Tom Wah since he seemed to lack any suitable skills for theatre operation, so she left the theatre for another business occupation the local newsagency. Sometime in the first half of 1959 Tom Wah bought out Kevin's shares in the company. In applying for a renewal for the licence on 10th October 1960, Wah is described as managing director. (A search of computerised company records indicated that it had been wound up many years ago.)

The problem of the widened proscenium was only concluded when the Junee Council's building inspector was asked to report. The reply (1/12/60) to T&PH stated that the reinforced truss, to increase the stage opening from 27ft 4ins to 36ft 4ins was structurally sound. On other matters, the place seemed to deteriorate, yet local television had not yet commenced it would in 1964. Sgt C.E. Riordan of Junee Police reported (15/12/63), In my opinion, Wah is making little or no effort to complete the outstanding items" of repairs. It then became a saga of decline.

In 1966 the Junee Municipal Council toyed with the idea of buying it, but did not (T&PH, 17/6/66). The licensing authority became more frustrated with Thomas Wah's procrastination and his ideas that never came to fruition. On 15th July, 1969, the Police reported that Wah could not make the required alterations to the theatre due to financial problems. Certainly, attendances for films had dwindled and they were only being shown a couple of times a week until B.T. Casey, Sergeant Third Class, Police Station, Junee, made his report, dated 21st December 1970: I have to report that the Broadway Theatre, Junee, is now closed and has been so for a period of about two months. The proprietor, Mr T.A. Wah has left Junee and is now residing in the Sydney area.

The NSW Fire Brigades had obtained advice from Miss L. Wah, sister of the previous correspondent, Mr T.A. Wah that the above building is now closed and no continuation of the licence is required and that the premises are up for sale (T&PH file, letter dated 15/6/71).

Theatres and Public Halls then cancelled licence number 1069 as of 21st January 1971. The file was closed.

The building remained closed until a local community organisation purchased it and sought its reopening. Theatres and Public Halls commenced a new file, now Item Number 81/0109 at State Records Office. It commences with a letter from the Junee and District development Association (JADDA), dated 7th December 1977. However, the licensing authority still had
its problems due, for one year, a secretary not replying to mail, and for another, a mass resignation by the organisation's executive, and further non-response to inquiries by Theatres and Public Halls. This promoted the authority to seek a search of the property's title by the Registrar General's Office. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the formation of JADDA, its fund-raising, undertaking repairwork, and conducting the theatre as a sports and entertainment venue for over a quarter of a century, is socially significant for the town and state in itself.

The J and DD Association was formed on 25th October 1976 at a public meeting to promote social, recreational, cultural and commercial activities within the Junee and Illabo local government areas (according to its Constitution). The elected President provided a Statutory Declaration to relate that the Contract of sale was dated 25th November 1977 (for Lot 15 plus part Lot 14 of Section 9, Deposited Plan 10366, Volume 5604, Folios 76 and 77) with both of the above councils accepting trusteeship of the property. The purchase price of $20,000 was provided exclusively by the Association with, as pointed out in the Statutory
Declaration, no money put in by the councils. In an application for a licence (T&PH, 26/5/78), note was made that the cost of building works for repairs to ceiling, floor, painting etc was $45,000. This together with the $20,000 purchase price accords with the $60,000 claimed to have been raised from the community by Alan McEwan and Dal Eisenhauer (in their interview, 2003). Because of the trusteeship vested in the local councils, it virtually meant that the community had given some $60,000 to the councils.

In December 1978 there was a letter suggesting that JADDA wished to screen 35mm films again (T&PH, 1/12/78). The projection box regulatory standards had changed since the theatre was previously licensed, thus requiring enlargement for re-use. Although plans were prepared for a smoke-lock to the projection box (13/11/81), the changes and proposal to
show films was dropped.

Because of organisational difficulties the Theatres and Public Halls authority decided (after the titles search) to correspond with Junee Council (11/3/85). A report from the Government Architect noted that, under the regulations in existence in 1985, the exits only allowed for a capacity of 350 in the dress circle and 400 in the stalls (T&PH, 23/4/85). A photograph, attached to a report (28/5/86), shows the colour scheme of 1978 grey, blue and white. The alterations, in that year, reduced some of the decorative qualities of the interior and exterior perhaps attempting to 'modernise' the building. At that time there was little knowledge of heritage (unless it was an early 19th Century building), the Heritage Act for NSW only
recently coming into effect.

Lights and neon was stripped from the faade, dark tiles on the shop fronts were overpainted, the ticket box was removed, the timber decoration on the ceiling was either covered over or removed, the side-wall shutters were replaced by windows, and the lights on the Art Deco back plates, and dress circle balustrade vine and trellis motifs, were removed.

The 1908 Theatres and Public Halls Act and the Public Halls (General) Regulation, 1977, were repealed in 1990. New Legislation Local Government (Theatres and Public Halls) Amendment Act, 1989 came into effect. It transferred licensing inspection etc responsibilities to councils.

In 1998 the exterior was painted, and additions made to the shop that had become the kitchen. This was undertaken partly with a grant from the NSW Heritage Office, the total cost, according to the Heritage Office being $28,000. Due partly to insurance 'problems' that plagued community groups and councils, following the collapse of the HIH Insurance Group, the theatre closed as a general recreation centre.

The Athenium Theatre represents Greek immigrant interest in operating cinemas in NSW for 50 years from circa 1910
(Source: K. Cork, 1998, Chapters 1 &2) :

The immigration of Greek nationals to NSW showed marked differences in economic sustainability for those who came before 1950 compared to those who arrived during the mass immigration period following World War II. Prior to World War II the numbers of Greek immigrants were small and followed a system of chain migration. That is, one or two members of a family arrived, worked for other Greeks, set themselves up in some form of business, then sponsored one or more members of the family or friends, to come out and work in that business. Businesses were not set up to service other Greeks but to serve the
Anglo-Celtic population.

These immigrants frequently went to country towns to set themselves up in a small catering type of business - food shops or cafes that prepared Australian-style meals. A number then moved into motion picture presentation in the same towns, again providing fare for the Anglo-Celtic population. Becoming managers of picture theatres also provided Greek immigrants with greater standing in town communities and allowed them to be better integrated into those communities.

Greek immigrants of the 19th and early 20th centuries mainly came from islands, (particularly Kythera), coastal towns and inland villages with what is described as a peasant background, often with little, if any, formal education. Between 1911 and 1947 almost half of those who arrived in NSW settled in non-metropolitan areas.

From around 1915 to the early 1960s 116 country picture theatres in NSW were at some time operated by 66 Greek immigrants in 57 towns. Thirty-four new picture theatres were built by Greek exhibitors in these towns. It is known that at least 61 of these immigrants were proprietors of their own food businesses by the time they branched into the motion picture exhibition business.

The Laurantus brothers fitted this model of arrival. Nicholas went to a Greek-run country cafe. George worked in Sydney until Nicholas bought the cafe, then he went to work for his brother, who although looked after the family was domineering like a father. George arrived from the island of Kythera in 1908/9. By the 1920s Nicholas had bought the Globe (later Plaza) Theatre, Narrandera; it burnt down in 1925 and the new one opened in 1927. This would be where George developed his flair for showmanship. He taught himself violin, would perform, and generally loved show business. He married in 1928 and settled in Junee to look after Nicholas's cinema interest in that town. It was a partnership with Ben Cummins, a local businessman. The three of them leased the Montreal Theatre, Tumut, then handed its operation over to a brother-in-law of the Laurantus'. They did the same with the Gundagai Theatre. In 1935 the Rio Theatre was built by Nicholas or the two brothers in partnership (depending upon what story is related). In 1936 Nicholas built the Rex Theatre at Corowa.

Again 1939 he wanted to pull out of cinema. Whereas other members of the family stayed at Gundagai and Tumut, Nicholas required George to give up Junee and look after a property he owned out of Narrandera. It would be five years before George could leave and obtain a picture theatre at Liverpool, Sydney, on his own terms.

According to his son and daughter, George was quite bitter, resenting his having to leave Junee. He loved the town and the Athenium Theatre. He painted all the billboards that announced the films for the wide fascia on the awning. He enjoyed setting up promotional floats and events. For On Our Selection (made 1931) he had a Dad, Mum and Dave with horse and old fashioned plough standing on the wide nature strip in the centre of the Broadway. Huge billboards covered the sides of a truck to advertise Janet Gaynor in Delicious (booked for four nights c.1932). A float that completely covered a small truck drove around town advertising Motion Picture Art in the Musical Gem, City of Song with Betty Stockfield. It is obvious from these examples from photos in Peter Laurantus's possession, and the gusto with which benefits and gala nights were organised, that George was an asset to Junee.

Where Greek immigrants had picture theatres they controlled their town's principal entertainment at a time when the overall population attended the cinema on average from 20 to 31 times a year at a time. It was also at a time when there were no registered clubs, no evening opening of hotels, no television, and virtually no professional sport. They [the Greek showmen] 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 theform of feature films, newsreels and documentaries.(Cork,1998)

The historical importance of cinema in socio-cultural development:
Cinema and its settings (the picture theatres) belong to a long tradition of narrative storytelling and cultural transmission. In documented history it commenced with the amalgam of performance and religious rights in Ancient Greece and continued through medieval times with the mystery and morality plays performed in the churches and other church-owned property. Some people lament that cinema is not high culture, but then many performances conducted by representatives of the medieval and early renaissance depicted violence, coarse language and obscenities (Bucknell, 1979, pp. 70,71). So too did the Elizabethan
and Restoration theatre of England. Governments have recognised the importance of theatrical performance either "live" or, as recorded on film or some other medium, by both their censorship and regulation, yet also by encouragement through government subsidy.

The progress of popular live theatre reached a pinnacle of mechanical invention for the stage presentation of melodrama. This was achieved through electricity becoming available, but electricity also allowed film to become "moving pictures". The narrative story-telling tradition smoothly moved from live plays to what were called "photoplays" - melodrama and epic tales projected onto a screen (See Vardac, 1949/1968). Not only did play texts move from one medium to another but the visual tradition of the stage moved also (See Brewster and Jacobs, 1997).

Whereas a stage presentation may have only had, at most, an audience of thousands it was soon appreciated that photoplays could have an audience of millions paying a fraction of the price to attend a live performance. The rates of attendance rose dramatically. While, before picture theatres, country towns would see an occasional second or third rate touring group of
actors perform with dubious expertise, the inhabitants could se a new photoplay once or twice a week if they so desired. And many did. Entertainment tax attendance figures (in the first halves of the 1920s and 1940s, when most seats were taxed) show that all Australians, on average, attended the movies 20 and more times a year. Subtract the very young and the frail elderly and the figure for attendance rises. Where individual cinema attendance figures have been retained for country towns, it shows that the whole population of a town attended about twenty times a year, and they looked forward to that weekly event as a "sense of
occasion and way of catching up with social interaction (and the town's gossip). They dressed in their best clobber" and enjoyed the luxury of wall-to-wall carpet, a decorated interior and dimming lights, and being greeted by the manager in a dinner suit (or the manageress in an evening dress) (Cork, 1995, pp. 8-18).

The first fifty years of the movie film was a revolution in both the presentation of narrative story-telling and entertainment, just as the second fifty years has seen a new move, for the majority of viewers of performed stories, from the picture theatre to video screen. But the audience for the motion picture has not fallen it has simply changed the medium in which it sees most of them. The quasi theatre that shows projected shadow performance should not, therefore, be seen as a brief occurrence in isolation from the long cultural traditions of narrative story-telling. The heyday of extraordinary attendances at picture theatres lasted as
long as, for example, the heyday of Elizabethan theatre in London.

Irrespective from where the filmed performances have emanated (USA, Britain or Australia, etc.) they have provided possibly greater cultural learning for more of the population than the morality plays did in the 12th to 15th centuries. But movie theatres were not only relating stories as entertainment: in the first World War and World War II they provided visual news of battles thousands of miles away. The production of patriotic films encouraged people's spirits, and during World War II managements of picture theatres conducted campaigns to entice people to purchase War Bonds or War Savings Certificates as a means of helping the war effort.

Sir Earle Page emphasised the importance of entertainment during a period of war, in his speech at the opening of another theatre in 1940. Not only was entertainment important but the picture theatre brought together a higher proportion of a country town's population than any other regular activity. It was the ecumenical glue that bound communities together for
the half century from around 1910 to 1960

The architects Kaberry and Chard and the now rarity of their design work:

In a letter to the Royal Australian Institute of Architects about the time of Lewis Kaberry's death c.1963, his son, Norman Kaberry, provided some background to his father, although he was incorrect in the names of some of the theatres the firm designed, and the date he retired from designing theatres.

Lewis Kaberry was born at Pontefract, Yorkshire, England, he served his Articles under the British Admiralty as an architect before proceeding to America round about 1895. After the Great Earthquake in San Francisco (1906), he took up residence there as an architect and helped in some small way with the re-building of the City. In an undated letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, Lewis Kaberry describes how, as an architectural draughtsman for the Pacific Telegraph and Telephone Co, he designed a new telephone exchange in Chinese style, inspired by an illustration of the Empress of China's Bedroom for the interior wall treatment. He came to Australia a little before 1914 when he decided to form a partnership
with Clifford Chard (about whom nothing is known).

Norman Kaberry related that the firm designed and supervised the building of over 150 theatres in every state in Australia (except Northern Territory). Les Tod and I have, from files and the Movie Theatre Heritage Register for NSW, identified 57 theatre design jobs (new theatres, major and minor alterations) by this firm in New South Wales. These have been tabulated together with a column showing their present state or condition. Only three remain with an auditorium close to the original design (Leeton, Junee and Tumut). Only two, Leeton and Junee possess Kaberry and Chard's distinctive and theatrical splayed 'superficial walls' each side of the stage opening (those at Tumut having been destroyed in the 1950s). Originally, the openings in these were curtained for Junee, in heavy blue material with gold trimmings, as too was the stage curtain.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
It is important in the course or pattern of NSW's cultural history because, like the very few remaining picture theatres of its era it is of historic, social and cultural significance due to "its association with past events, persons and groups who contributed or participated in an important social and cultural phenomenon of the 20th century, namely 'movie going'. The importance of such historical phase or phenomenon may be gauged. . .by its physical manifestations, including the number of theatre buildings then existing [from 1910 to 1960], the amount of employment created, the fact that 'picture going' was second only to sport as a leisure time activity, ands by its impact on popular taste of the time where concerned with fashion, design generally, language, music and behaviour" (Simpson, 1986:109).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building has an association with Sir Nicholas Laurantus, Greek immigrant, businessperson and philanthropist, for this and other cinemas in the Riverina Region of NSW. The theatre generally exhibits the early 20th century efforts of Greek immigrants (with George Laurantus) to integrate into and supply entertainment facilities for the Anglo-Celtic population.

The building has an association with Gladys Moncrief, OBE, who was the most famous soprano in Australia since the retirement of Florence Austral, for the period of the 1930s to the end of the 1940s. The building symbolises those lost country theatres, in NSW, in which Moncrief appeared in major Sydney-produced productions on tour.

At a local level it has an association with the present Heffernan family through the grandfather (Ben Cummins) and great-grandfather of Senator Heffernan, for their involvement in cinema at both the Lyceum and Athenium Theatres.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The theatre building stands out and is recognisable as a theatre. This visually important element used to be a feature of many towns but the list of picture theatres in NSW towns at 1951 demonstrates that it is now rare. That is, it possesses landmark quality.

The layering of the vine and trellis decoration uniquely exhibits the influence of the management of a Greek immigrant, providing a flavour of the "peasant" population of the island of Kythera that existed at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century.

In 1929, the architects were developing towards a Functional architecture, away from the revivalist styles of the twenties and former decades. It was in the mould of that development in Sweden, but whereas Sweden continued on the road to Modernism, Australia, like USA, temporarily deviated into the style that would later be known as 'Art Deco'. It demonstrated what was a forward thinking process by these architects. The use of structure and construction, through simple carpentry, to provide a decorative ceiling (not now visible) also fits this assessment of Functionalism used by Kaberry and Chard.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
From entertainment tax receipts, cinema attendance was greater than all other paid-for activities - sport, racing, concerts, dancing, live theatre etc, combined.

The Athenium Theatre (now Jadda Centre) possesses social significance for Junee being one of the very few, and first towns in NSW where the population came together as early as 1976/7, to buy the town's theatre for community use. Total funds were raised for purchase and rehabilitation (at that time) from the local population, through the organised community group, the Junee and District Development Association which generously vested ownership in the Local council(s).

The building provides great social significance in an historical sense to the town. Commissioner Simpson, in his Inquiry into the Regent Theatre, Sydney (1986) reported: "It is of historic, social and cultural significance because of its association with past events, persons and groups who contributed or participated in an important social and cultural phenomenon of the 20th century, namely 'movie going'. (Simpson, 1986:109).

It also has social significance for its other role as virtual town hall - the social centre of the town.

Collectively in Junee, the pubs (and former hotels), the three quarter century old shops and the Broadway Stores, the theatre, the railway station, the banks, the post office, the engine roundhouse, the former printery, the mansion on the hill (Monte Christo), the former flour mill, all provide a social history of a town that is unique in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
For this assessment a table of all country theatres in NSW was revised to omit areas now incorporated into Sydney or Newcastle where comparison of Census data becomes impossible. The year 1951 was taken as being a high attendance time before television, and without new post-War World II theatres being built or old ones being closed down.

There were 351 cinema venues in 289 towns in NSW (excluding Sydney and Newcastle). A column was added to the list showing present 2003 status. Less than 10 per cent "exist" as spaces recognisable as original theatres (that is, only 31). Only 11 of those exist with some form of obviously decorative interior and theatrical exterior. The Junee theatre is one of those eleven or one of only 3.1 per cent of the body of country cinemas that existed in 1951, comprising picture theatres built in the heyday of the silent and sound movies.

Of the 57 theatre commissions identified for the work of the major theatre architectural firm of Kabbery and Chard in NSW, only three remain without being demolished, or considerably adapted. Those three are in Junee, Tumut and Leeton. Junee and Leeton possess the side-of-stage splayed false decorative walls, used as a feature by these architects. Only Tumut
has an original proscenium. All three should be listed.

The picture theatre/social centre for the town is a rare example that "provides evidence of a [virtually] defunct custom, way of life" (Assessing Heritage Significance, p.22). The Junee theatre is rare across the total number of towns in NSW (excluding Sydney and Newcastle). It provides accurate evidence of a significant human activity. Combined. It shows evidence of a rare significant human activity important to a community.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
With its wide frontage and substantial, imposing, but modest faade, the Junee theatre is a superior building to most constructed at the time in towns of up to four thousand people, and which, in 2003, have either been altered for other uses or demolished.

In relation to the large body of theatre work of the architects, Kaberry and Chard, it is very typical, or in other words, an excellent example - as good as these architects designed for larger towns.

The integrity of the item has only been compromised by superficial alterations (such as change of windows and removal of light fixtures on the faade;; replacing side wooden shutters with windows; changing the original proscenium for a wider 'plain' stage opening; and relining the ceiling). The principal parts of the building are intact, thus retaining its original theatrical aura.


Conclusions on Heritage Significance
The Jadda Centre building is likely to be of State significance. It meets six criteria for listing on the SHR.
Integrity/Intactness: The integrity of the item has only been compromised by superficial alterations (such as
change of windows and removal of light fixtures on the faade;; replacing side wooden
shutters with windows; changing the original proscenium for a wider 'plain' stage opening;
and relining the ceiling). The principal parts of the building are intact, thus retaining its
original theatrical aura.
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 0168709 Jan 04 8147
Heritage Act - Interim Heritage Order - Revoked 0007726 May 03 91-

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDane Fuller2003Junee centre under attack (Daily Advertiser 24/7/2003)
WrittenMartin, Lawrie2003Council to fight JADDA listing (Junee Southern Cross 23/10/03)
WrittenRoss Thorne2003Athenium Theatre (JADDA Centre) Heritage Assessment

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

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5053909


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