BINGARA’S 80-year-old Roxy Theatre could soon be recognised for its historic significance, as the state heritage council considers placing it on the heritage register.
Gwydir Shire Council marketing promotions co-ordinator Georgia Standerwick believes many will be surprised that the art deco theatre isn’t already on the list. She said heritage council representatives were overwhelmed with the building.
“They seem to think that it’s one of the only existing examples of the theatre and cafe combination still left in Australia,” she said.
“There’s not many like it left any more. There’s lots of theatres that have been torn down.”
She pointed to Inverell’s once-iconic Capitol Theatre, which met its end in 1975.
“We don’t want that kind of thing to happen to the Roxy.”
Built by Greek immigrants in the 1930s, the theatre and cafe opened to great fanfare, sparking a ‘cinema war’ with the previously established Regent Theatre. After five months of fierce competition, Roxy owners Peter Feros, Emanuel Aroney and George Psaltis declared bankruptcy. The cinema continued to operate until 1958.
The building was used as a memorabilia shop and then a Chinese restaurant before being purchased and restored by the local council. Today it operates as a multipurpose function centre, houses the Bingara Tourist Information Centre and a museum focusing on the area’s Greek heritage.
“It’s become a tourist icon. Lots of people come for our river, but also the Roxy,” Georgia said.
The Gwydir Shire Council began the application process for the heritage listing around 18 months ago. Georgia said that while it was “a huge undertaking”, it was worthwhile. Along with the prestige and promotional benefits, if the application is successful, the council will have access to new funding to help maintain the building.
Current plans include making the building more energy efficient, by changing the lights to LED and possibly replacing the floor.
“For us, it’s really preserving the building and making sure it can’t be touched and that any changes that are made, are sympathetic to the building and its heritage,” Georgia said.
The NSW Heritage Council gave notice of its intention to consider listing the Roxy after its December 7 meeting. Community members, organisations and other interested parties can have their say on the proposal and the significance of the theatre and cafe complex.
Written submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or Heritage Council of NSW, Locked Bag 5020, Parramatta NSW 2124, by January 16.