OPERA HOUSE AKA: SAINT JAMES, ODEON [1883-1983]
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TUAM SREET PUBLIC HALL

214 Tuam street
seating 2,200
1877 - 1882 (destroyed by fire)
new building - (des. T. S. Lambert)
20 Jul 1883 - 1894
seating 1,311
renamed -
OPERA HOUSE
Jul 1894 - 1903
renamed -
FULLER'S VAUDEVILLE HOUSE
19 Feb 1903 - 1917 and 1918 - 1928
refurbished - (des. S. & A. Luttrell.)
designed in the Italian style
26 Dec 1927
seating 1,298
renamed -
NEW OPERA HOUSE
1928 - 1930
renamed -
ST. JAMES (des. Allan Manson)
26 Jul 1930 - 1960, with sound.
Screening early Hollywood 'talkies' along side live shows.
altered to -
ODEON (des. Rigby &. Mullan)
29 Sep 1960 - 16 Jun 1983
seating 725
51' x 25' screen - 14 speakers
Bought by Kerridge Odeon, the theatre was upgraded and reopened as The Odeon, complete with projection room and wide screen.
(Assembly of God Church)

Later history: Sold in 1983 to the Assembly of God for use as a church. In 1999 they offered the building for sale and various groups were trying to secure funding to use the building as a performance venue. At the time of the Inner City Cinema Tour (August 2003), during which the photographs on this page were taken, no buyer had been found, but by mid 2004 the building had been bought by a property developer. In July 2004 the City Council had instigated a feasibility study to investigate the purchase of the building, and all interested parties await the result with baited breath...

Additional comments - Liz McDonald 'Curtain up for Theatre' The Press July 22, 2003 C3.

Recent Developments: In late 2006 the theatre was bought by Dave Henderson, a local property developer whose company proports to follow ... a style of urban design and development called New Urbanism. New Urbanism is focused on creating community developments that are focused on people. Communities that provide for places where people can live, work, relax and be entertained. Report from the Star

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Projectionist Russell Campbell recollections from ex staff member.


Article by Nick Paris

Deep in the midst of Tuam Street lies one of Christchurch's and indeed New Zealand's oldest surviving theatres The Odeon. Currently under threat of demolition to ventures outside the 'ideal' outcome, The Odeon Theatre Trust was formed to protect the interest of this most valuable icon in the entertainment world from falling to the wrecker's ball .

It needs no introduction that Christchurch has no dedicated film festival venue or cinematic cathedral capable of furthering film culture in the mainland. The International Film Festival has been venue hopping for over three decades starting from the excellent Riccarton Rd landmark the Avenue to the Carlton in Cathedral Square with its 60s swanky makeover, the Regent's huge upstairs auditorium probably best remembered by all. The Academy, Metro and Limiere all had a taste of it as well, finally resting at its current location, the Rialto.

Having seen festival offerings at the Civic in Auckland, the beautiful Embassy {Wellington} and not to mention the South Island's ultimate festival venue The Regent in Dunedin it beckons all who love the moving image to support our efforts to save this Venetian Gothic lady from lowering her frock for the last time.

Built in 1883 as the Tuam Street Hall it became a popular venue for meetings, notably, Kate Sheppard held some suffrage gatherings in the hall and in November 1893 some of the first votes by women were cast there. In 1930 it became the St James with a mixture of stage and film. In 1960 Kerridge-Odeon in a bid to combat the threat of television completely remodelled it to the Odeon hosting 70mm projection and a massive 51 ft by 25 ft screen to the delight of Christchurch audiences it was the beacon for many years before sloppy programming and the ergonomic Westend in Cathedral Square sealed its death warrant in 1983.

The restoration of The Odeon is one of the major keys to the revitalisation of the entire surrounding precinct , one of the most culturally vibrant areas in Christchurch. Favoured by its enviable location near leading bars and restaurants and diverse residents make this project potent in its development and re-growth strategy.

If you feel you have some time and energy to devote our campaign please contact;

Nick Paris; Tel; 9810353
Cell; 0210451645
e-mail; nickparis@....


MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE USE; OCTOBER 11TH 2004
SAVE The Odeon THEATRE
214 TUAM STREET, CHRISTCHURCH

Odeon Open Day
A highlight of the Carter Group Heritage Week 15-22 October 2004
When; Thursday 21st October, Noon to 8pm, Gold Coin Entry.
Revive those magical memories, learn about the star-studded history and see the impressive interior of this 127-yr-old theatre. There will be talks and movies during the open day.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION;
Completed in 1883 as a public theatre and hall [used by Kate Sheppard as a vital campaign base in the pursuit of woman's suffrage] and later transformed into a vaudeville venue, cinema & church- The Odeon is an irreplaceable Christchurch historical landmark. However despite it's architectural & social significance, the theatre currently faces demolition. As an iconic statement within the cityscape, The Odeon demands preservation as a building of incredible artistic and cultural importance.

Photographs from the day:

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