The Star Theatre to be reinvented

INVERMAY ICON: Currently used as a St Vincent de Paul Society charity outlet, the old Star Theatre will soon be reinvented. Pictures: Scott Gelston

INVERMAY ICON: Currently used as a St Vincent de Paul Society charity outlet, the old Star Theatre will soon be reinvented. Pictures: Scott Gelston

After its opening in 1937, the Star Theatre in Invermay was a Launceston cultural hub for more than three decades.

The art deco building, located at 217B Invermay Road, was a successful suburban movie theatre.

The two-storey building was purposed to provide attendees with quality acoustics.

The theatre could hold 579 people in the stalls and 263 in the dress circle, meaning a total capacity of 842 patrons. 

NEUTRALS AND NEON: Inside the original cinema, tubing was used with neutral paint colours to create neon illumination.

NEUTRALS AND NEON: Inside the original cinema, tubing was used with neutral paint colours to create neon illumination.

“Although the Star is the last word in comfort and beauty, it was built primarily to produce good sound,” The Examiner reported on October 1, 1937. 

The Examiner report detailed “many interesting features” including “an ornamental island ticket box”, “heavy carpeted stairways” and “an attractively furnished and comfortable foyer lounge”. 

The building was constructed at a cost of about 15,000 pounds. 

NEW ERA: Ben Davis, one of three co-owners behind the new venture, in front of projectors in the original theatre.

NEW ERA: Ben Davis, one of three co-owners behind the new venture, in front of projectors in the original theatre.

The Examiner described the theatre’s indirect neon lighting “delightful”, with effects that were “interchangeable and dimmed at will”.

The interior and exterior lighting used more than 1200 feet of neon coloured gas tubing, and the cinema was painted a neutral colour so neon lighting could have maximum impact on patrons.  

Business declined after television’s revolutionary arrival in Australia in 1956, and the cinema ceased operating in 1969.

The building was purchased by the St Vincent de Paul Society in 1971 to be used as a charity outlet. 

The quality acoustics will soon be reutilised, as plans to repurpose the building as a cinema once again have been revealed. 

Launceston locals Andrew Quaile, Ben Davis and Paul Lee-Archer purchased the site in March 2015. 

ART DECO: Circular and triangular shapes were signature architectural aspects of the art deco era.

ART DECO: Circular and triangular shapes were signature architectural aspects of the art deco era.

The Star Theatre was designed by Tasmanian architect Guy Crick, who worked with Sydney architecture firm Crick and Furse. 

Mr Lee-Archer said Mr Crick was responsible for the design of many renowned cinemas nationwide. 

Renovations will commence in early 2017.

Mr Davis said retaining the building’s originality was very important to the trio of co-owners. 

"Any original features we'll keep and ideally enhance," Mr Davis said. 

"Anything that needs to be put in new, we will put it more minimalist so that it celebrates the art deco original features."

Mr Davis said the film-loving trio were excited to open an independent cinema.

“I love art deco, and I also love that it’s a suburban cinema,” Mr Davis said. 

During planning, they have met multiple people who worked at the Star Theatre who were joyous that it was being given a new lease on life as a cinema. 

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