Topic: Saint James Theatre / Odeon

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The Saint James Theatre was an early Christchurch cinema which opened in 1930.

The St James/Odeon Theatre was situated at 214 Tuam Street in a building erected in 1882 for use as a public hall. The building also served for time as a skating rink and as a venue for opera performances. In February 1903 John Fuller and Sons took over the unexpired portion of P.R. Dix’s lease of the Opera House.

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.

By January 1939 it had reopened. 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 Canterbury Earthquakes.



Wayne Brittenden. The Celluloid Circus: The Heyday of the New Zealand Picture Theatre

Odeon Theatre. Heritage New Zealand.

Public Hall (later St James Theatre), Tuam Street, Christchurch. Christchurch City Libraries.

‘Opera House’ Press, Volume LXVI, Issue 19830, 18 January 1930.

‘New Opera House’ Press, Volume LXVI, Issue 19987, 23 July 1930.

‘Christchurch Theatre to Close’ Press, Volume LXVII, Issue 20282, 7 July 1931.

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Saint James Theatre / Odeon