The Paddington Antique Centre is inside the heritage listed Plaza Theatre. The Plaza theatre commenced construction in 1929 and opened for business in September 1930.
The grand opening advertisement declared The Paddington Plaza to be Queensland’s only Atmospheric theatre. At the time it was, but there went on to be seven in Australia, and the Plaza is now one of only two remaining.
The Atmospheric style interior of the theatre means that it was decorated in an exotic manner to create an outdoor atmosphere, a style that became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The Plaza Theatre was themed and appropriated from Spanish and Middle Eastern architecture in order to create illusion. The vaulted ceiling, which remains painted dark blue, was unique to the Australian Atmospherics style and featured suspended, wooden, cut-out clouds which were originally back-lit to simulate the moon behind the clouds. Together with lights imitating the stars, this enabled the patrons to imagine they were seated out of doors.
The theatre was open seven days a week, with serials shown on Monday and Tuesday nights, and feature films and newsreels on other nights. A matinee was also shown on Sunday afternoons. The theatre had a capacity of 1500 who were seated in double canvas chairs on one large sloping level. The tram would wait across the road at Trammie’s Corner until the movies had finished and the patrons had enjoyed a milkshake at the milkbar which was part of the original shops along Latrobe Terrace. The theatre also had a special soundproofed glass room built, called the Cry Room which was provided for young mothers and their babies.
Visit the Paddington Antique Centre today and you will see remains of the theatre’s features including the enormous bright blue plaster ceiling. The large Spanish style proscenium arch heavily decorated with mission tiles and plaster scroll-work which includes the original textile valance embossed with the theatre’s name, still remains. Flanking the wide proscenium are ornamental balconies topped by large, arched columns under which used to stand classical style statues and below the balconies are niches with twisted Roman columns all interspersed with scroll-work and other ornamentation.
In such a big space with such obvious history, it is easy to let your imagination run wild and believe it may be haunted. Some of our long serving staff members, say that the centre does have a ghost. The story goes that a young woman was stabbed in the foyer one evening, by a jealous lover…or something like that. It certainly isn’t hard to believe the urban myth to be true when a centre this big carrying so many antique wares, must have 1000s of stories to tell!
The theatre continued to operate with relative success until television arrived in the late 1950s and diminishing patronage brought about its closure in 1962. After its closure, a level floor was installed, making it suitable for use as a basketball court and basketball matches were played until the building was sold in 1977.
The antique centre was established here in 1985 by partners Graham & Anne Hesse and Heather & John Mildwaters. In 2008, The Paddington Antique Centre was purchased by current owner and director, Suzy Baines.
Come in and visit us sometime and see this amazing heritage listed building.