Palace Theatre

Plaster decorations in the skip outside the Palace - Thursday 22nd
Plaster decorations in the skip outside the Palace – Thursday 22nd

November 26th: Yesterday morning (Nov 25) members of Melbourne Heritage Action, Save the Palace Theatre – Melbourne, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and The Australian Music Museum Project converged at a recycling centre in suburban Melbourne. We had been tipped off that the plaster, tiles, doors and other parts of the interiors of the Palace ripped out in last week’s vandalism at the Palace Theatre were being stored. More here.

November 20th: As of November 20th 2014 it has become clear that the interiors that are currently being considered for heritage protection are being destroyed. A skip appeared outside the Palace Theatre that was filled with crushed remnant of the plaster decorations, original heritage doors, tiles and so on. It seems likely that this is a cynical piece of deliberate vandalism to stop the interiors gaining a heritage listing. Cr Rohan Leppert has asked the Department of Planning (not the Minister as the Government is in caretaker mode) to give the building emergency heritage protection. More here.

The National Trust has an update here.


October 2014 – Future Melbourne Committee agrees with the Heritage Council’s assessment that the Palace Theatre is significant at a local level, and requests an assessment of the significance of the external and internal components of the site as well as a draft planning scheme amendment which recognises the Palace Theatre as a site of local significance.

July 2014 The fate of the Palace Theatre at 20-30 Bourke St continues to hang in the balance a year after plans for its demolition first came to light.

The building is listed by the National Trust as significant at the Regional level for architectural and historical reasons (link to National Trust listing here). Built as a theatre in 1912, the interior was remodelled in 1916 and in 1923 by theatre architect Harry White (who also designed the Palais, and the interiors of the Princess and Athenaeum theatres). Though the façade is a 1950s version of Art Deco, it does contribute to the low-rise, largely heritage, streetscape in this area. More importantly the foyers, the balconies and ceiling decoration are mostly from around 1916 and remain intact.

The building is within a Heritage Precinct but the exterior has only low grade protection (D graded but this grading is out-of-date) and the interiors, which are arguably the best bit about the building, are not protected.

The Palace Theatre was a key live music venue in Melbourne before its closure in May 2014. Since its construction the has been everything from an Edwardian theatre to cinema to a revivalist church to a nightclub to its most recent incarnation as the Palace Theatre.

A photo gallery of the fantastic interiors can be found here.

See all previous updates posts about the Palace here.


1st July 2014 – Palace Theatre on the Agenda for Future Melbourne Committee meeting but discussion postponed after the developer submitted an amended application. The new plans (not yet public) apparently fit within the new mandatory height limits.

27th June 2014 – The Planning Minister formally introduces interim 12-month mandatory height limits for the Bourke Hill heritage precinct. The new height limit means it is impossible for the W- Hotel proposal to be approved as it exceeds the height limits.

19th June – Planning Minister indicates he will make height limits on Bourke Hill mandatory – potentially scuttling development proposal for Palace Theatre site.

10th June 2014 – Discussion about Palace Theatre postponed by Future Melbourne Committee.

20th May 2014 – MHA sends objection to the Palace Theatre proposal.

March 2014 – Announcement that Palace Theatre lease has been terminated and the venue will be forced to close in May.

February 2014 – A new proposal for a shorter tower that will only house a hotel and no apartments.

12th November – Melbourne City Council votes against initial proposal to demolish the Palace Theatre and replace it with a tower.

October 2013 – Indications that Parliament is not happy about proposal for a huge tower in the Bourke Hill precinct.

August 2013 – A motion from Cr Rohan Leppert  proposing a review of the Bourke Hill heritage precinct, looking at heritage and height controls, with a view to improving them.

August 2013 – MHA’s first objection to Palace Theatre demolition.

July 2013 – Planning Minister indicates he does not support the plans for a height-limit smashing tower on Bourke Hill.

5th July 2013 – Plans for demolition of the Palace Theatre are made public. The popular live music venue and important historic theatre is to be replaced by a luxury hotel and apartments. Not only will the Palace Theatre be lost but the height of the tower will smsh through advisory height limits in the Parliamentary precinct. The original Age story here.

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