Capitol Theatre

64 Orr Street,
Queenstown, TAS 7467

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Additional Info

Architects: E. Round

Functions: Medical Center, Office Space

Previous Names: Gaiety Picture Theatre

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Capitol Theatre  Queenstown, TAS - Previously the Gaiety

The Gaiety Hall at 64 Orr Street, Queenstown (Tasmania) was built as a general hall in 1932. In 1935 Mr A. Puli of the Olympia Theatre announced the purchase of the Gaiety Hall for the purpose of refurbishment and updating and the screening of talking pictures. In the meantime it had been decided to renovate the Olympia Theatre and in the winter use it as a roller skating rink. Plans for the Gaiety conversion were being prepared by Mr. E. Round, architect of Hobart. This would include the construction of a stage, comfortable seating accommodation, sufficient ventilation and other necessary improvements. It is assumed that this is the moment a new wooden façade was built across the front of the existing building to include an entrance foyer & lobby.

On 13th July 1935 the newly named Gaiety Picture Theatre opened with much celebration. The Queenstown band paraded in front of the theatre and rendered popular airs, while inside the Warden of Queenstown Mr. J.H. Bowskill (introduced by Mr. C.V. Boot) declared the Gaiety Picture Theatre officially opened. He predicted that the theatre would mark a new era in the progress of community activities, and would be an ongoing source of pleasure to the towns-people of Queenstown. His comments were received by a capacity house (700-people) who gave him a standing ovation. The exterior of the building was brilliantly illuminated by the use of coloured lights.

During August 1935 the Gaiety Theatre was nearly lost when 3,000 feet of nitrate film caught fire in the projection room. The Queenstown Dire Brigafe were called, and on arrival managed to control the blaze. Fortunately the operating box is surrounded by concrete and galvanized iron which prevented the fire from spreading. By 1946 the Gaiety Theatre was re-named Capitol Theatre. From this point onwards, the theatre because of its size was used for drama, concerts, dances and boxing, as well as films. It was operated by A.F.C. Leach and was listed with 800-seats. By 1950 it was listed with 600-seats.

In 1951 the State Government purchased the theatre for £6,000, and announced that it would be used for indoor sports and social functions, while the stage would be retained for dramatic society work. In 1995 the Hydro Electric Commission acquired the building for administration purposes. Today (2020) the building is used by Health West, the West Coast District Hospital at Queenstown. Health West also owns the building at #60 Orr Street.

Contributed by Greg Lynch
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