Christchurch's State Cinema

On the North-east corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets is an unfortunate example of recycling defacing rather than preserving a building's character.

 

When the State Cinema opened in 1935 the city gained a fine example of Art Deco decoration. It was the work of a local architect, Francis Willis, who was the readiest in the Christchurch of the late 1920s and 1930s to experiment with decorative building design.

 

His experiments were not always entirely successful, but in the case of the State Cinema he attractively embellished a simple box of a building with curves, chevrons and lettering, all in slight relief. The effect was stylised, but the cinema was one of the best examples in Christchurch of decorative work of the 1930s.

 

When the cinema's lease expired in 1977, the building was converted to accommodate the growth of a duty free shop which had long occupied the ground floor. The exterior of the building was sheathed in white fibre glass panels intended to give the building a modern look compatible with the new Rural Bank building on the opposite corner. The result has reduced what had been a notable building to a boring white box.

 

Canterbury Heritage, a journal of the province's social history and cultural heritage.

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Uploaded on April 16, 2008