Historic HB: Arcade gave way to movies


As a sign of Napier's progression as a town, Hawke's Bay's first shopping arcade was built in 1908, which had frontages on Hastings Street and Marine Parade. This building's opening made news around New Zealand.

One tenant was Harston & Co, which became a long-established Napier music store.

Surprisingly, the arcade only lasted eight years and was demolished to make way for a picture theatre called Everybody's, which opened on December 23, 1916.

The architect of the movie theatre was Henry Eli White, who had also designed the Hastings Municipal Theatre (now Hawke's Bay Opera House), which had opened a year earlier. The exterior of Everybody's Theatre was designed in the Spanish Mission style, as was the Hastings Municipal Theatre.

It appears that Henry Eli White had salvaged the arcade building's facade and made some alterations to create the Spanish Mission style of architecture. The upstairs arcade shops were turned into offices and the interior of the theatre seated about 1200 people.

The movie theatre would change its name to the Majestic in 1927 but was wrecked during the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake.

The post-quake theatre, called the Plaza, opened in 1933 and underwent a name change in 1939 to the Regent - but its life as a theatre was short-lived when fire gutted the building in 1944. The theatre was derelict for some 16 years until Robert Kerridge reopened the building in 1960 as the Odeon, which lasted 29 years, closing in 1989.

This site is now being turned into a retail store for Farmers. While in 1916, the site's arcade facade was saved for a movie theatre, in 2012, the old Odeon Theatre's facade is being saved for a retail store.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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