Kiama’s long vanished buildings on show

Kiama’s long vanished Antrim Theatre, Kiama School of Arts and The Brighton Hotel will be featured in a “Things we’ve lost and way things were” section as part of an upcoming exhibition on domestic architecture at the Old Kiama Fire Station next month.

A Closer Look: Lost and Found Treasures of Kiama will be staged from October 20 – 24 and features information and historic photos of some of Kiama’s most recognisable houses.

The exhibition has been put together under the umbrella of the Kiama District and Historical Society (KDHS) in response to the changing character and rapid development in Kiama.

Primary researcher and photographer Miggs Bodie has used a variety of resources and spoken to long-time residents to painstakingly piece together information on many Kiama homes.

KDHS president Sue Eggins said the work would become a valuable and evolving resource for the town.

"This exhibition will amaze you with the lovely character of many smaller houses you may not have noticed before, you may also learn new things about your home,’’ Ms Eggins said. “Many home owners have been very generous giving us information about their homes.’’

As support grows for a theatre in Kiama,  one building Ms Eggins has highlighted is the Antrim Theatre, in Manning Street, where the St Tropez unit block now stands, on the northern side of the north Surf Beach car park. It was a hub for the town from 1924 until 1971.

Towns can't stand still, but with good planning, they should not lose their character or make life unpleasant for their residents.

Sue Eggins

Alexander George Carson’s theatre had a total seating capacity of 999, about 180 of which were in the dress circle.

As well as a picture theatre, the Antrim was also used for concerts, balls and meetings and was reported to have the largest dance floor outside the Sydney metropolitan areas at the time.

The last movie was screened at the cinema on Saturday, April 11, 1970.

Ms Eggins said the exhibition was a reminder how easily precious buildings could be lost and how important they were to the fabric of a town.

"We are watching Kiama change before our eyes, sadly we are catching up to the Central Coast or Port Stephens.

There is a lot of infill, where once some community-use buildings, such as the Antrim Theatre stood. A very few people make a lot of money and then move on to their next development.

“I hear people complaining of the traffic or too many tourists, so it is important that Kiama Council has an overall plan for the town, so it is not being overwhelmed, as at the moment, with hundreds of apartments becoming available.

“Towns can't stand still, but with good planning, they should not lose their character or make life unpleasant for their residents."

Want more from the Kiama Independent? Try these:

Apartment at 6/2 Barney Street, Kiama listed for $3 million to $3.3 million

Kiama cemeteries seek to ease squeeze on popular plots