Page 5 - CinemaRecord #11R.pdf
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59.  Hoyts Alhambra                                                          by Ann Westmore

             Located at 828 Sydney Rd,  Brunswick (corner of Donald St., opposite the Brunswick tram depot)

             Cinema patrons considering a night out at the Alhambra picture theatre in working-class Brunswick had good
             reason to expect exotic fixtures and elaborate de«;:orations.

             After all, the Alhambra owed its name to the spectacular fortress-like palace in  the southern Spanish city of
             Granada. The  massive hilltop  construction  so impressed American  writer,  Washington  Irving, that  he  de-
             scribed it last century as "one of the most remarkable, romantic and delicious spots in the world". He went on
             to write an inspired collection of colourful stories entitled The Alhambra, thereby capturing the imagination of
             Nineteenth Century America and achieving for himself the status of a living literary legend.

             The Melbourne picture theatre of the same name was a decidedly more modest affair, although architect and
             proprietor, Percy Allen from West Brunswick, claimed its construction cost him the substantial sum of 10,000

             An advertisement in the Brunswick and Coburg Star of 23 October 1914 announcing the imminent opening of
             The  Alhambra  promised  it  would  be  something  special.  The  whole  building, including  the  roof, was  to be
             constructed from reinforced concrete, "making it one of the most stable buildings of its kind". It would double as
             a picture theatre and a vaudeville hall showing acts of "a clean and irreproachable character", and would be a
             "forerunner of a revolution in the construction of Melbourne theatres". According to Allen, the 1600 people the
             Alhambra was designed to seat would be able to take their refreshments in a first-floor balcony cafe complete
             with full-size trees, directly above the theatre's Sydney Road entrance.

             Alas when the Alhambra opened its doors for the first time in February 1915 with the melodramatic photo play
             "Harbour Lights" and the travel picture "Australia's Unknown", patrons found the proprietor's prose had been a
             little overblown. The venue was certainly large, contained a stage proscenium and  an orchestra pit, and the
             walls were fashioned from concrete. But there was no balcony cafe and, looking up, a tin roof supported by a
             clearly visible framework of steel girders was evident instead of the much heralded concrete construction.
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