Odeon Theatre

The Odeon, situated at 214 Tuam Street, was a theatre building constructed in 1882.

Exterior of 214 Tuam Street
Exterior of 214 Tuam Street. Photographer (pht): Doc Ross. © Doc Ross

The foundation stone for a public hall in Tuam Street was laid in July 1882. Designed by Thomas Lambert in the Italianate style of architecture, it opened on 20 July 1883.

The front of the building originally contained shops on the ground floor, with cloak, card and smoking rooms above. The auditorium was capable of seating up to 2200 people, with 600 seats in the circle gallery. The stage was 40 feet deep and 60 feet wide and behind were situated the dressing rooms and store room. The plastered ceiling of the auditorium featured three domes with lights.

As well as a venue for performances, the building also served for time as a skating rink. In 1894 the building was repurposed as an opera house by Maurice Duval. In February 1903 John Fuller and Sons took over the unexpired portion of P.R. Dix’s lease of the Opera House.

Further alterations were made by Allan Manson in 1927 who pushed the circle forward and deepened the stage. In January 1930 the building was renovated to allow talking movies to be shown between stage shows. Still known as the New Opera House, in July 1930 it was renamed the St James Theatre. The theatre closed in July 1931.

The building reopened as a theatre in January 1939. A photograph from the mid-1940s shows a large auditorium with stalls and a dress circle with a stepped back row.

The theatre came under the management of Kerridge-Odeon in 1960 who renamed it the Odeon. As part of their renovation they removed the parapet on the exterior façade. Interior modifications included the removal of the back stalls in the auditorium and converting the space into a coffee lounge.

In 1983 the theatre closed after it was purchased by the Sydenham Assembly of God who modified it for their use as a church. The building remained in use until the earthquakes of 2010-2011. The rear section of the building was demolished in 2015 but the façade has been retained.