Astor - Cinema History.
The Astor Cinema stands on a site that has been
the venue for cinema and entertainment since 1911
when Mt Lawley was one of Perth’s newest suburbs.
The building was originally known as the ‘Lyceum
Theatre’ and was designed by Mr D. McClure,
Architect and built by Mr S.B. Alexander, whose
family owned the premises. The Alexander family
also owned the Alexander Building on the South-West
corner of Beaufort and Walcott Streets.
The name of the Theatre was later changed from
the ‘Lyceum’ to the ‘State Theatre’.
In 1939 the theatre was redesigned in an Art Deco
style by Mr William T Leighton, Architect, and reconstructed
by S.B. Alexander’s son John. Mr Leighton’s
Art Deco design introduced ‘The Mayan Flower’
to the Theatre. The Art Deco theme runs from the
Main Auditorium through the external facades to
Beaufort and Walcott Streets.
The Astor Theatre received its current name in
1941 when an Act of Parliament decreed it an offence
for a private business to use the name ‘State’.
Mr John Alexander’s wife, Mavis, renamed the
theatre ‘The Astor’ in memory of a theatre
of the same name in New Farm, Brisbane that was
the first cinema they went to after their marriage.
In recent years, the Astor saw a decline in patronage
and has been the venue for a number of activities
including amateur dramatic shows, a dancing studio
and bingo. In 1988, it was classified by the National
In 1989, the 50th Anniversary of its Art Deco redevelopment,
the Theatre underwent an extensive refurbishment
by Philip McAllister, Architect for Entrevision
Cinemas Pty Ltd, who wished to return the cinema
to its Art Deco glory and provide a quality film
experience in a quality environment.
The cinema was officially reopened on 26th July
1989 by His Worship the Mayor of the City of Stirling,
Cr. A. A. Spagnolo, prior to a screening of Australian
director Peter Weir’s new film ‘Dead
Since this date, the Astor Cinema has undergone
further refurbishment in November 2006, while the
cinema facilities continue to be upgraded. With
many recent closures, the Astor Cinema is one of
Perth’s few remaining inner city cinemas.
Historical research provided by Ms Vyonne Geneve,
President of Art Deco Society of WA.