In the early 1930s, the people of Ballarat stoically weathered the great depression. Many people took to mining for gold under the streets just to survive. In a show of solidarity inspired by the spirit of the Eureka Stockade, their mantra at the time was ‘treasure before transport’. By the end of the great depression, the people of Ballarat were ready to leave those tiresome days behind and prioritise enjoyment in their lives. Cue The Border Theatre.
Built-in 1938, the Border Theatre was a grand single-screen venue. It was an art deco masterpiece and could cater for 302 moviegoers in the large theatre. The foyer was spacious enough to hold a packed-out Saturday night crowd and the ticket office worked overtime during a full house. The candy bar served fantales, boxes of Jaffas, and flavoured cordials.
The theatre became a hive of activity during those early years. People would come to be scared by movies like ‘The Uninvited’ and ‘Wolf Man’, enjoy the musical delights of ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Meet me in St Louis’, or enjoy the feel-good moments of movies like ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.
Those days of packed foyers began to recede into the 1950s and 1960s as people began to watch television at home and find other conduits of entertainment. During the 70s and 80s, families would attend the theatre to watch the latest releases and marvel at the quality of the picture and sound.
During the 90s, the theatre was in desperate need of repair. The owners at the time set about modernizing the interior and exterior of the building. During this period, the one large theatre was subdivided into two smaller theatres and some of the foyer was redesignated to theatre space in the process. This allowed the theatre to cater for two different showings at once.
Those last renovations were 28 years ago now, and the theatre is due for another rejuvenation. The management committee have been planning several projects to ensure the longevity of the theatre while maintaining the nostalgia. The interior and exterior of the theatre are scheduled for a makeover and some very exciting things have been planned. The original art deco style of the theatre is a historical treasure, and management is looking forward to restoring The Border Theatre to its former glory. Be sure to check back in right here to follow along with all The Border Theatre renovation updates, and plenty of information on the fun happenings at this wonderful old venue.