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About The 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 Trust.

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 Poets Society’.

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.

 
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