Heritage Building Targeted for Action – Bourke Street Target Store Masks Birthplace of City’s Cinema Scene
Behind the unimposing commercial façade of Melbourne’s Bourke Street Target store lies what remains one of the city’s lesser-known, yet more spectacular former picture palaces. And according to one heritage group, it’s time for Melbourne to be re-united with this icon from its past.
Activist group Melbourne Heritage Action today called on the Target Store’s owners to remove the building’s signage and false façade which obscures the otherwise in tact exterior of the former Hoyts De Luxe Cinema. The building is of tremendous importance to Melbourne’s history and it is often regarded as the birthplace of the city’s cinema culture.
The De Luxe is also notable for being one of the last designed by one of Melbourne’s most renowned architects, William Pitt. The De Luxe took around a year to build and first opened its doors in 1915. It quickly becoming regarded as one of the country’s most luxurious picture palaces. The cinema’s name was changed to The Esquire after 1946, and it catered for clientele of the Regent Theatre, which had been closed after a fire. Next door is another hidden heritage building, the Art Deco Coles Store, built in two stages. It was designed by the well known architect Harry Norris (who also designed the well-loved Nicholas Building) and opened in 1937 as Mantons. It was extended in 1955, in a matching style, and became a Coles Store.
In 1977 the floors of this building were extended into the Hoyts Theatre and the interior of the cinema was destroyed. At this point both facades were covered by dull modern cladding. When the Target sign was replaced in 1994 the original ornate theatre facade was briefly revealed behind the sheeting. The building’s facade was then listed by the National Trust, since it remains almost completely in tact behind the modern cladding.
We have recently seen some retailers making use of heritage buildings to improve their branding. Such as the publicity Chanel were able to generate for their recent store opening well off the traditional Collins Street boutique strip. They basically didn’t need to do a cent of advertising because they got such good coverage for the wonderful job they did restoring a heritage building. Target have a similar opportunity with this building. What is there now is dated and can’t be seen from the footpath anyway, it’s not the big sign that’s dragging people in to their store. They should consider giving a gift to the people of Melbourne, that would do so much more for them in branding terms than a sign you can only see when passing down the other side of the street. The Hoyts De Luxe Facade in 1977 just prior to the ‘Target’ signage going up on the Bourke Street frontage. It is believed that much of the facade remains intact to this day beneath the existing cladding, including the windows, arches and render detailing. The central column was made of leadlight. A glimpse of the surviving heritage facade beneath the existing Target sign from 1994. The windows, columns and render detailing survive. A photomontage putting images of the Hoyts De Luxe and the Coles Store from 1977 in the file of the National Trust together with a current image of the existing Deco building on the right. Existing Target Centre cladding over the Hoyts Deluxe heritage facade. To the right the original Moderne Streamline ‘Mantons’ facade is also believed to exist beneath the cladding seen here.
More information about the Hoyts De Luxe can be found on this website, including details of films that were screened there http://bmhasaam219.blogspot.com.au/