News, Events and Culture

52-56 George Street - Former Astoria Ballroom entrance

Building Details

Building Name: Former Astoria Ballroom entrance
Address: 52-56 George Street
Construction date: 1910
Architect: James Copeland & CW Blackbourn, Robin Hood (refurbishment)
Builder: AE Blackbourn
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 38
Heritage NZ Category: Nil

Physical and Social History 

This block of shops is the former road frontage of Palmerston North's first purpose-built movie theatre, originally called the His Majesty's Theatre, and thereafter it underwent a number of changes of both name and role. In recent times it was known as the Astoria Ballroom. In its day and in its various guises, this block of shops fronted a very large building that was one of the social hubs of Palmerston North. This building originally consisted of three shops and the entrance to the theatre. Nowadays, two of the shops have been combined into one (now Mango Music), while the theatre/ballroom entrance with its distinctive verandah, has also been converted into a shop (nowadays Urban Charm).

Prior History & Complicated Ownership Changes (excludes the main theatre)
CT WN38/172, covering the Main Street end of the building (now Mango Music, and which included TJ Rodgers' office until the mid-1950s) was issued in 1885 to Eleanor Bourchier Balsdon, a local dressmaker. She died aged 44 (date not known) and is buried at Terrace End Cemetery, but apart from transferring the property to Annie Bourchier Milson in 1891, nothing more is known of her. The property was next transferred in 1910 to Clara Kate Miller, wife of James Miller, agent, who leased it to Thomas John Rodgers for ten years from 25 July 1910. The Fullers (who ran His Majesty's Theatre) sub-let it in 1912 (until 1920), and TJ Rodgers duly bought it in 1924. He sold it to Ellen Scanlon in 1929, and his wife Julia Rodgers then bought it back a few months later. It was transmitted to Thomas Michael Rodgers in 1944, and then transferred to Reed McGregor Contract Furnishing Ltd in 1972, before passing to various members of the Bares family and associated people from 1977. The present owners bought it in 2004.

CT WN38/173, covering the Cuba Street end of the building, was issued in 1885 to Charles London, a Halcombe Settler. It then passed in 1889 to James Miller, a local storekeeper, who leased it to Joe Lee and Joe Sing in 1904, for three years. The lease lapsed, was renewed in 1905 and then lapsed again, before in 1910, it was leased to Thomas John Rodgers for ten years beginning 25 July 1910. Despite many sub-leases by Rodgers, the land remained owned by James Miller until his death, at which time it was transmitted in 1917 to his widow, Clara Kate (Catherine) Miller of Wellington. In 1924 ownership of the land was finally transferred to TJ Rodgers.

This CT (WN38/173) was replaced in 1928 by the two present ones, with the main area (the Cuba Street end of the building) - on CT WN385/206, going to William Robert Kemball, a merchant of Masterton.  and then the same year going to Palmerston Pictures Ltd, which then leased it in 1930 to Palmerston Theatres Ltd for ten years. The property was transferred in 1948 to Recreation (Manawatu) Ltd, and then in 1978 to Kerridge Odeon Corporation Ltd, and finally to the present owner, the PN City Council. The other part of the former CT WN38/173 (a narrow strip of land at the centre of the building), became WN385/270, and remained in 1928 with TJ Rogers. Thereafter it followed the identical ownership, as has CT WN38/172.

The Building

Designed to be multi-purpose, the building's uses over seven decades were very varied. It also underwent many changes of name. However, in its various guises it played an important role in the social life of the city.

At the time of the final closure in 1984, the late City Archivist, Ian Matheson, compiled a quick history of the building. He stated that it was built by local real estate agent, TJ Rodgers for about £2,600, and that is was then leased to Messrs J Fuller & Sons. That firm operated it as His Majesty's Theatre for the next four years. The new and clearly impressive building - and the George Street portion that survives - was described in considerable detail in the Manawatu Evening Standard of 31 December 1910:   The Theatre, which has just been erected by Mr TJ Rodgers, in George Street, is now completed. This immense building, which is licensed to seat 1750 persons, has been beautifully finished throughout. The main entrance is from George Street and consists of a spacious vestibule leading in to the main auditorium, and it is there that one cannot help but being struck with the immense size of the building. The floor has been specially laid for skating and consists of specially run by 4in by 1½in heart of matai, intersecting at both ends and radiating from a centre, making the floor ideal for skating. It has a total space of 9,100 square feet, being 130 (feet) long by 70 feet wide, which is the largest single floor in the Dominion. The building has a 24 feet stud and the height inside from floor to ceiling is 30 feet, and when used for pictures it will allow the production of a picture 30 by 50 feet. The ceiling (which is a cove design) and the walls have been lined throughout by specially run 4 x ¾ rimu and oiled. Placed in the ceiling are four large and ten smaller ventilators of handsome design, the whole effect presenting a fine appearance.

In the matter of fire escapes the building is unrivalled in the Dominion. Mr Rodgers has spared no expense in that direction, there being nine doors, each eight feet wide, giving a total exit of 70 feet. There is a space of 20 feet on either side of the building, 12 feet at the back, and three twelve feet exits to the streets. The earth on both sides of the building has been raised and metalled to a level with the floor, and though the building is capable of holding nearly 2,000 people it could, if necessary, be emptied in less than one and a half minutes. Besides the excellent provision for exits there is installed an exceptionally powerful four-inch fire service with all the necessary appliances, all of which have been carried out to the entire satisfaction of the Superintendent of the Palmerston North Fire Board. Attached to the main building are four well-finished dressing and attendants' rooms and the manager's office, each being supplied with necessary lavatories, etc. Detached from the main building is the engine room (26 feet by 10 feet) in which is to be installed the engine and electrical plant for showing pictures and necessary lighting. In addition His Majesty's is to be lighted with gas, three special ventilating inverted gas sunlights being used. These aggregate 6,000 candle power.

Adjoining the main entrance and fronting George Street Mr Rodgers has had erected three business premises consisting of a cosy tea and dining room 45 feet by 17 feet wide, which has been nicely fitted for the purpose; a shop to be used for a fruit and confectionary; and a comfortable and conveniently arranged office where, in future, Mr Rodgers will carry on his own business. A verandah has also been erected over the footpath along the whole frontage, with a prominent portico over the main entrance.

The central position of His Majesty's is bound to make it a popular place of amusement. The contractor (Mr AE Blackbourn) has completed the building in a thorough manner, the work having involved some heavy labour, the construction being most substantial in every detail. Oregon pine and selected rimu have been used for the roof principals, which are heavily strapped with iron and provided with powerful tie-rods with union screws, while the exterior appearance of the theatre is enhanced by the addition of twelve massive concrete and timber buttresses, The building is from the joint design of Mr James Copeland and Mr CW Blackbourn. Mr Copeland supervised the work on behalf of Mr Rodgers and Mr CW Blackbourn was foreman for the contractor. The subcontractors were: Ironwork, Messrs Scott, Niven and Co; plumbing, Mr J Lissington; painting, Mr H Holbrook; each of whose work has given every satisfaction. The timber was supplied by Messrs GA Gamman and Co, of Ohakune. His Majesty's Theatre has been leased for a term to Messrs John Fuller and Sons, of Wellington, well-known theatre proprietors, and whose name has always been associated with what is best in the theatrical world.[2] 

The building was leased by the vaudeville promoters, John Fuller & Son, and opening night was February 6 1911. The report of the first screening stated that long before the doors opened a large crowd was waiting outside the theatre in George Street, a crowd so large that even the spacious building could not provide accommodation for it. Long before eight the sale of tickets had to be stopped, and by this time it was estimated that about 1,600 people were inside the building.[3]

The editor of the Manawatu Evening Standard wrote the next day that: The spectacle presented at the opening of His Majesty's Theatre last night when the large building was filled to its utmost capacity, and hundreds had to be turned away, is conclusive proof of the popularity of picture shows as a means of entertainment. The off-repeated assertion that moving pictures are only in their infancy as yet seems to contain much truth, and such a statement is borne out by the fact that as the facilities for witnessing them multiply the attendance of the public seems to increase in proportion. Even last night, notwithstanding the crowd at His Majesty's, the attendance at the Opera House was well up on previous standards in point of numbers. This only goes to show the hold the new form of entertainment has on the residents of Palmerston, who are as eager to witness the sights of the world and the clever creations of the cinematographer's art as any residents in the larger cities…[4]

The PN Fire Brigade newspaper files contain an unsourced clipping from 26 February 1911, which must have provided its readers with some comfort: The fire appliances connected with His Majesty's Theatre in George Street, were given a trial by Superintendent Warner this morning, and gave every satisfaction, the hose throwing a stream of water over the building.[5]

The fledgling movie industry and the theatre soon proved sufficiently successful for Fullers to build their own specially designed movie theatre - the Everybody's Theatre in Coleman Place, in 1915. When that theatre was in turn superseded, its landmark building became the Midland Hotel. However, that too is now long gone.

Ian Matheson's potted history recorded that His Majesty's Theatre closed down in 1915 when Fullers opened Everybody's Theatre. At that time, Palmerston North did not have electricity, and it is possible to speculate that the noise of the necessary electricity generator set in the nearby engine shed described above, might have impacted upon the ability of theatre patrons to enjoy their movie-going experience. The flat level floor might also have been a negative feature, with the view of the screen potentially being obstructed by the heads of other patrons.

On 18 July 1916, the building reopened at His Majesty's Skating Rink, with over 100 skaters taking to the floor (until the skates ran out). It was noted that as the floor was laid out for skating when built, it was expected to have few equals in the country, and to be one of the largest also. Mr A Dowling, who had run a very successful rink in Masterton, was the proprietor, and Rodney Talbot, a well-known local skater who had just returned from Gallipoli, was to be the manager. A few weeks later the enthusiastic organisers were even racing motorbikes against skaters in the building.[6] This venture lasted until about 1919.

Then for the next two years the building endured the indignity of becoming a tyre storage facility for the New Zealand Express Co Ltd.[7] Between about 1921 and 1924, it served as an auction room for the Kairanga Auctioneering Co Ltd, and also accommodated a 10-table billiard saloon operated by Messrs Crossan & Elridge.

In the latter part of 1924, Palmerston North very belatedly joined the ranks of New Zealand's electricity-powered towns. Then on 30 October 1924, this building, which had been leased to Palmerston Paramount Pictures Ltd, reopened as the Paramount Theatre. At this time the theatre was also equipped with 26 rows of seats situated on two levels of ramped floor. It was licensed to seat 850 people.

The Manawatu Evening Standard reported that a crowded house had attended the first showing in the new theatre. The furnishings and appointments were on a lavish scale, and a feature was the upholstered and widely-spaced tip-up chairs. The sloping floor also meant that the screen was visible from every part of the house.[8]

The Paramount Theatre name was short-lived, as in 1926 it was renamed the De Luxe Theatre and operated by Palmerston Pictures Ltd. This firm also operated the Palace and Kosy Theatres. The last screening at the De Luxe Theatre appears to have occurred without fanfare on Saturday, 6 December 1930. The following week the Kosy Theatre - formerly the city's silent cinema - had its Grand Re-opening with talkies after a major upgrade. It had been chosen for the upgrade due in part to its central location[9] The Regent Theatre had also recently opened nearby.

Between about 1931 and about 1933, the building became the De Luxe Skating Rink, while still owned by Palmerston Pictures Ltd. Ian Matheson made an extensive search of the building permit registers throughout this period seeking signs of the building's conversion to a skating rink. However, the above 1910 newspaper article indicates that it was designed to suit such a purpose from the start.

When the skating rink closed, it became the De Luxe Dance Hall, and then from about 1936 and until 1942, it was the Coconut Grove Ballroom, operated by HJ Sutton.

In 1942, it became the ANA Dance Hall, being operated by a subcommittee of the Wellington Provincial Patriotic Council, which leased the building. "ANA" stood for 'Army, Navy & Air Force Club'. The official opening of the reincarnated facility occurred on Saturday 18 July 1942.

The committee operated a Club in Broadway (which offered soldiers accommodation in the form of bed and breakfast) during this time, as well as the dance hall. The committee's objects were to promote in every way the comfort and well being of the Men of the Fighting Forces. The hall was open every Saturday and Sunday for club purposes, while during the week it was also let to others.

Women were permitted to become members of the ANA Dance Club, and the strict list of rules included such things as the women being approved by the committee in order to gain membership; having to be prepared to entertain and act as a hostess to the members of HM Forces; they must not refuse to dance when asked to do so; they had to be present by 9:30pm on Saturday evenings and pass-out checks would not be issued on Saturday nights. Furthermore, any member breaking these Rules or behaving in an unseemly manner, or in any way acting in a manner calculated to be detrimental to the Club, shall have her membership cancelled.

The rules applicable to the men were not located, although the custodian had to attend all functions and had the right to eject any undesirable person from any of the Committee's premises.

The ANA's lease on the premises duly expired on 15 February 1946, and its property was variously returned to owners or sold off.[10] A 'glitter ball', made locally by Alexander Clark Ltd in about 1932 to specifications supplied by the US film company Metro Goldwyn Mayer, was also supposed to depart to its new owner at this time. However, the next organisation operating the hall refused to hand it over. When the building was eventually demolished in 1984, the glitter ball was passed to the Manawatu Savage Club, for its venue.

Between 1946 and about 1948, the building became the George Street Ballroom. It then became the Ballroom Astoria in about 1948, and this remained its name until it closed in 1984. However, with many name changes, the population apparently felt less inclined toward keeping up with the latest names. For example, an important article outlining the building's rebirth in 1965, didn't mention the word Astoria at all:

New future for city dance hall
The George Street building known to most people as the ANA, an institution which performed a useful service to members of the Armed Forces during the last war, is about to come into its own again as an entertainment centre.

By the end of the month it will be reopened as a cabaret, a thorough alteration and decoration programme having completely transformed The Old Lady of George Street."

About a third of the former 8,000 sq ft of dancing space has been petitioned off for a carpeted coffee lounge, in such a way that the dance floor is in full view all the time. Some 60 lights of various colours supply the illuminations on the dance floor, and the raised dais for the six-man orchestra will shed coloured light on the players, who will comprise a pianist, bass drummer, trumpeter, saxophonist and Alto saxophonist.

New seats have been set around the walls of the dance floor, and former patrons of the ANA will scarcely recognise the building.

There is a large alcove behind the orchestra dais, and to the right is a secondary dressing room that will be used when the hall is engaged for special shows, such as mannequin parades.

The building, which is owned by the Odeon Theatre organisation, has been leased by Messrs RJ Morris and J Farry, of Wellington (who have a similar project in the Capital city), and Mr C James, a Palmerston North businessman.

The promoters emphasise that the cabaret is not just a teenage show, and that they intend to cater for the middle-aged dancers as well; also that a recognised standard of dress will be maintained on all occasions, amid comfortable appointments and at reasonable prices.

By this means they hope to attract a wide and regular clientele, who will find the cabaret filling a long-felt want in the city.

The building has had a chequered career over the years. At one time pictures were shown there under the auspices of the Plaza Theatre (sic), but the venture was not a success. The building was then used successively as a billiards room and a skating rink. In the 1920s it was the scene of many city dances, and so, when World War II came, it was natural that it should be taken over for the entertainment of the Armed Forces.

More recently, the ANA was used for Sunday dances organised by the Kiwi Sports Club for the youth of the city. They were extremely popular, and the club performed a grand service in staging them.

The passage of time had taken toll on the building, but the enterprise of the lessees has achieved wonders, as will be seen when the regular cabaret evenings begin.

The building is to be available for private functions on off nights.[11]

The reborn facility was operated by Astoria Promotions Ltd, a company formed in 1964. Until that time, the building had been used for housie nights four nights per week, each attracting some 300 people (or 62,400 visits per year). It had also been being used for balls, weddings, meetings and social functions.[12]

In 1980, the Manawatu Evening Standard interviewed Percy Chase, a former manager of the Regent Theatre, on his career. He commented that after the war, the building had been returned by the Army to its owner, Sir Robert Kerridge. He said, "Sir Robert asked what we could do with it, so I suggested we run a ballroom. He told me to go ahead, so I enlisted Mr Norman Jordan, who had a big dance band. Between the two of us we ran the biggest dances in New Zealand, we'd have about 1,500 there on a Saturday night." However, he added that the days of the successful Astoria Ballroom ended with the arrival of television in the early 1960s.[13]

On 1 April 1981, Palmerston North City Council purchased the property from the Kerridge Odeon Corporation Ltd for $125,000. However, Astoria Promotions Ltd remained the tenant until 20 May 1984. The last function held there - on Queens Birthday Weekend, 1984 - was the national convention of Square Dancers, organised by the Rose City Ramblers Square Dancing Club.[14] The Manawatu Evening Standard published a photo on 18 May 1984 (p1) of the last housie night held in the building the previous evening. Demolition was due to occur the following month.

The land upon which the main part of the theatre once stood now serves as the Main Street end of the Harvey Norman building. However, the shop that was once the theatre's main entrance, with its distinctive portico above its verandah, still serves as a reminder of this historic building, in its many guises.

Additions & Alterations
PNCC Building Permit file G 5/62-68 includes the plans for seating improvements at His Majesty's Theatre, on behalf of PN Paramount Pictures Ltd. These are dated 30 August 1924 and were drawn up by architect Robin Hood. This relates to the entry in the Building Permit Register Vol 3: PN Paramount Picture Co, (Pt Sec 332) involving additions in wood to the value of £850.[17]

In 1970, a permit was applied for to erect a mezzanine floor for the Astoria Construction Company, and in 1978, a permit was applied for to reinstate the verandah of the Astoria Ballroom.

In 1980, PNCC wrote to Morrison Taylor & Co regarding FE Petersen's amusement parlour premises at 66-68 George Street, regarding alterations there. In 1996, the floor plan for the Windfall Gallery at 66 George Street was supplied to PNCC, and this appears to relate to the planned frame shop requiring alterations on behalf of the Peter Bares Trust.

Building Permit file G 5/64 records that in 1994, Jaqueline McKean of 64 George St, applied for a permit to build a new shop front. The plans include the comment "reuse 'Astoria' door", and show a sketch of a glass door with the word "Astoria" etched diagonally across it. This door is no longer there. This appears to be the point at which the double-door entrance to the old Astoria was changed to its present shop-front form.

The Alleyway
The now cut-off alleyway between the ballroom buildings and the Nash Building used to lead to a service station, and this appears to have had a relationship to the small shop at 52 George Street. A service station very close to a large wooden building potentially holding many hundreds of people, does not sound compatible in the present day. The service station appears to date from after the 1930 closure of the building as a picture theatre - first appearing in the 1933 Stones Directory as Joseph Edward Day's petrol and service station. Williams & Hunter had taken over by the 1936 Wises Directory, followed by the Avro Service Station Ltd (1939), Frederick Haxton (1944-51), and then Reliance Motors in the 1953-57 editions.

Between the 1939 and 1960, the Wises Directories also list several other businesses whose situations are unknown[18], and the shop in this building closest to the alleyway, as 70 George Street. The main one of these was Grundy's Rental Car Ltd, that later became Grundy's Motors Ltd. Possibly the shop served as an office for some of the businesses, however, there was clearly commercial activity behind the hall - and also a car park.

The front portion of the alleyway was part of the neighbouring Nash Building's land, and that building's CT records that the operators of the hall also tended to lease access to the alleyway. CT WN31/270 records property owner Elizabeth Lily Nash leasing part of her property to Thomas John Rodgers for a period of 37 years and 9 months, from 6 July 1910. He then leased the right to pass over it to John Fuller, Benjamin John Fuller and John Fuller the younger (who operated the theatre) for ten years from 23 January 1911. In 1925, Rodgers subleased this land to the Kairanga Auctioneering Company, which in turn granted permission to pass over it to the Palmerston Paramount Pictures Company Ltd, in 1925, the term to expire on 6 April 1948 (ie. when Rodgers' lease was to expire). At the same time in 1925, the sublease was passed to Albert Ernest Blackbourn, the contractor who had erected this building. In 1927, the right to pass over was transferred from Paramount to William Robert Kemball, who, the following year bought the shop that is now 52 George Street. Thereafter the alleyway is not mentioned. Probably Kemball had a connection to the Grundy's rental car business and/or to the service station.

The 1953-54 Wises Directory listed Grundy's has having for a short period taken over the closest shop in the Nash Building on the other side of the alleyway. The 1941 phonebook lists Grundy's Rental Car Ltd, which advertised that it replaced its entire fleet each year. It also had branches in New Plymouth, Waitara and Gisborne. The firm advertised in the Manawatu Evening Standard in 1942 that it was next to the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom, while the associated Reliance Motors advertised used rental cars for sale, and that the entrance to its premises was next to Cocoanut Grove. It also advertised repairs, servicing and greasing.[19] An undated plan in PNCC Building Permit file G5/62-68 shows the garaging for the rental cars and also the location of the petrol pumps only a matter of metres from the side of the ballroom.

Thomas John Rodgers died on 3 June 1958, aged 83, after spending almost sixty years connected in various ways to this building, including having his land agent's business in one of the shops there until he was aged about 80.

Shop 1 - 52 George St - Shop nearest Cuba Street and alleyway
Wises 1914-20 - Lee Joe & Co, laundry
Wises 1922 - 15 George St - H Stockbridge, tailor
Wises 1925 - 15 George St - James Duhovich, confectioner
Stones 1933 - Nil
Wises 1936-39 - 15a/70 George St - Mrs Annie F Walker, restaurant
Wises 1944-51 - 70 George St - Grundy's Rental Cars
Wises 1953-60 - 70 George St - Grundy's Motors Ltd (also in #66 next door 1953-54 edition
Now - 52 George St - Indigo Clothing

Shop 2 - 54 George St - the names reflect the hall's occupant of the day
Wises 1914-16 - Fuller's Pictures
Wises 1920 - Skating Rink
Wises 1922 - Kairanga Auctioneering Company
Wises 1925-33 - Nil (& Stones)
Wises 1936-39 - De Luxe Hall (#18 in 1936)
Wises 1944 - Nil
Wises 1950-54 - 2 George St - ANA Ballroom
Wises 1957-60 - 72 George St- Ballroom Astoria
Was (2009) - 54 George St - Studio 64 Astoria
Now - 54 George St - Urban Charm Secondhand Shop

Shop 3 - 56 George St
Wises 1914-16 - 7 George St - William Lahood, restaurant & confectioner
Wises 1920-22 - 13 George St - TP Robins & Co, upholsterers
Wises 1922 - Nil
Wises 1925-39 - 13/17/74 George St - George Feroza Framjee, photo dealer (& Stones)[20]
Wises 1944 - Nil
Wises 1950-54 - 74 George St - Doll's Hospital
Wises 1957-60 - Nil (possibly combined as Montana Cafeteria about 1959-60)
Now - 56 George St - Mango Music, 56 George St

Shop 4 - Now part of 56 George St - Shop nearest Main Street
Wises 1914-54 - 5/11/15/76 George St - TJ Rodgers & Co, land agents
Wises 1957 - 76 George St - nil
Wises 1959-60 - 76 George St - Montana Cafeteria

Photographic Record

Three photos showing this building were located in the PN Library Photographic Collection. The oldest is the abovementioned photo T27, which was taken during construction in 1910, and which shows the workmen dwarfed by the building's upper framework as they erected the roof trusses. Photo St108 was taken about 1937 and shows the massive building with external wall bracings, in the centre of the block and towering over the surrounding buildings. Photo BC168 shows the entrance to the Ballroom Astoria, as published in the Manawatu Evening Standard of 17 April 1980. Notes with this photo state that the ballroom and a private carpark had been designated to become a public carpark, and that a director of Astoria Promotions and Hugh Farquhar, owner of the neighbouring Nash Buildings, had opposed this.

Architectural Description 

The former theatre and ballroom have been replaced by the existing shops, but the entry and verandah has been retained and are of timber construction with a timber cornice and posts and vertical boarding to the above verandah portion.

The description of the original theatre is as above.


This building was designed by Charles William Blackbourn, a builder and contractor who had studied architecture and who designed most of his largest building contracts. He was born in Okato, Taranaki, in 1876, before serving a building apprenticeship in Palmerston North and Wanganui under Mr Coupe. He worked as a journeyman until starting his own business in Palmerston North in 1900. By the time Volume 6 of the Cyclopedia on New Zealand was published in 1908, Blackbourn employed forty staff in relation to his business and his contracts. Another of his buildings that survives is the two-storied former 'The Arcade' shop in Coleman Place that was built in 1906.[15] Notes on the back of a photo of His Majesty's Theatre during construction, which was donated by CW Blackbourn's daughter, said that his firm collapsed during the depression, after which he drove a taxi. Meanwhile, his brother Albert Blackbourn went into business as a builder in his own right.[16] He also maintained a link to this building by being based in the yard beside it.

Statement of Significance 

This building has high local significance for historical and design values and façade authenticity.

This block of shops has high historic and emotional values as the former road frontage of Palmerston North's first purpose-built movie theatre, originally called the His Majesty's Theatre.  It also has high historic values in its association with the architects James Copeland & CW Blackbourn, Robin Hood (refurbishment), Ernest Larcomb, who designed a number of significant buildings in Palmerston North.  Larcomb's designs  include the main public hospital, many shops around the Square, and several large houses such as the Wattles, the Empire, Albion and Occidental Hotels.  Robin Hood, another Palmerston North architect designed the refurbishment of the building.

The original and later ownership and tenants reflect a moderate level of continuity as a typical pattern of similar commercial buildings throughout the city.

The building has moderate design values as a representative example of the Inter- War Free Classical style.

The building has high design values as one of a number of buildings in the Cuba Street, George Street, Coleman Place, and The Square area which, when considered collectively, form a coherent group of buildings of a similar age, general style, form, use, and scale.

The building's street façade design has ahighlevel ofauthenticity, however the remainder of the building has been significantly modified

[1] See also the former Pink & Collison Building (now Coo-ee Drycleaners) at 260-262 Cuba St re James Copeland

[2]Manawatu Evening Standard 31 December 1910 5(7) 'His Majesty's Theatre'

[3]Manawatu Evening Standard 7 February 1911 5(6). See also 4 February 1911 5(6) & 6 February 1911 5(7)

[4]Manawatu Evening Standard 7 February 1911 4(6)

[5] 'PN Fire Brigade Newspaper Cuttings 1909-1926', p29, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library

[6]Manawatu Evening Standard 17 July 1916 6(2), 19 July 1916 6(7), 16 September 1916 1(2), 18 September 1916 6(1)

[7] Ian Matheson's notes in File A 175/87, Research file: Astoria Ballroom, include an interview with Mr SF Barnao, dated 22 April 1981, whose father had links to the building through their company Recreation Manawatu Ltd., which ran the building as a ballroom  He first recalled the building as an auction mart in the 1920s. He said it was used for tyre storage in the early part of the war (WWII?), with tyres coming from all over the district. Then it became the ANA Club. He said that the floor was especially sprung for dancing, and some feared that the weight of the tyres would damage the floor.  Ian Matheson City Archives. 

[8]Manawatu Evening Standard 31 October 1924 (7(4)

[9]Manawatu Evening Standard 6 December 1930 1(3), 12 December 1930 3(3)

[10] PNCC Series 11/12. 'Notes on ANA Club & Dancehall 1942-46' by Ian Matheson, 1984, from the records of the ANA Committee in City Archives, in File A 175/87, Research file: Astoria Ballroom, Ian Matheson City Archives. 

[11]Manawatu Evening Standard, 3 September 1965, in File A 175/87, Research file: Astoria Ballroom, Ian Matheson City Archives. 

[12] Ian Matheson's notes from PNCC File 78/0/5/4/9, 16 April 1980, in File A 175/87, Research file: Astoria Ballroom, Ian Matheson City Archives. 

[13]Manawatu Evening Standard, 2 December 1980, p13, 'Percy pushed promotion'.

[14] Ian Matheson's notes from PNCC File 36/87/1, in File A 175/87, Research file: Astoria Ballroom, Ian Matheson City Archives. 

[15]Cyclopedia of New Zealand, Vol 6, (Wellington, 1906), pp674-5, 'Blackbourn, Charles William'

[16] Photo T27, Photographic Collection, PN City Library

[17] Building Permit Register, Vol 3, PNCC 4/13/1. Also the original plans for the 1924 work are located in PNCC Series 4/13/6, Plan 207/62-68, all at Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library

[18] The 1944-51 Wises Directories list Blackburn & Son (sic), builders, as also being at 70 George Street. This firm erected this building in 1910-11.

[19]Manawatu Evening Standard regular advert 15 June 1942 4(1)

[20] By 1942, GF Framjee was advertising his business as being in Broadway opposite the Regent Theatre. (Manawatu Times 12/6/1942 3(4-5)