The Victorian Academy of Music, feted by the press as a “jewel of the theatre”, was a a great deal anticipated “palace lifted to the Muses” and its foundation stone was laid with wonderful fanfare by the Governor of Victoria on May 23, 1876.
The pink leather-based, gold embossed program with its silk web pages and classy gothic script speaks to the grandeur of the celebration. A copy of the method and a Nicholas Caire photograph of the shambolic scene, with viewers members propped up on scaffolding that would never ever go a 21st century health and basic safety inspection, are aspect of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s collection.
This “excellent small theatre”, with its billiard area, café, and stained-glass home windows, was designed over a purchasing arcade. It opened on November 6, 1876 and was quickly recognised as the Academy of Audio, Bijou Theatre.
Its 3-storeyed Italianate exterior stood out in opposition to its subsequent-door neighbour, the rather far more blunt-faced Opera Household Hotel with its “Fosters Lager Beer” advertisement splashed across its façade. Subsequent to them (on the suitable of this image) is a new addition to the streetscape – Denton Brothers tailors, who opened this retailer at 253 Bourke St in March 1893 and bragged of being “Royal Household Tailors”.
The Bijou Theatre offered uplifting entertainment for the masses for 60 yrs. It practically satisfied its demise in a serious fire on Easter Monday 1889, credited with resulting in the institution of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, but survived that, and the despair of the 1890s, to satisfy its downfall in the course of a different equally devastating melancholy in the 1930s.
The ‘30s was a time when dwell amusement, vaudeville in unique, was offering way to the entice of the flicks, especially “talkies”. The Bijou’s then proprietors, Ben and John Fuller, advertised the theatre as a “house of clear vaudeville” and the Roxy Theatre Talkies took its position in the building, but almost nothing could stem the tide of adjust and the Bijou was made available for sale in January 1934. Ironically, one of its closing offerings was a live revue for little ones entitled “Mickey the Mouse”.
It took some time to sell, and a number of extravagant ideas for future enhancement fell as a result of prior to portion of the huge web site was bought to the Commonwealth Financial institution. In July 1938, the Herald newspaper documented its demolition, Theodore Fink, chairman of the theatre’s board of directors, lamenting the sight of the “roofless façade with its empty windows like eyeless sockets”. •