Topic: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Peoples Pictures/Regent Theatre (1918)

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Govett-Brewster Art Gallery 

In 1862 New Plymouth's first Primitive Methodist Church  was erected on this site. It was replaced in 1904 by a larger church building designed by noted New Plymouth architect Frank Messenger. The final church service was conducted in December 1914.

Alterations to the church were carried out in 1915, and Peoples' Picture Theatre screened its first movie on 12 February, 1916. However, soon after opening, further alterations were planned, and these form the basis of the present building. Tenders for extensive alterations and additions in reinforced concrete, and the construction of a dress circle, for the Peoples Picture Company, were called for by Palmerston North architect Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard during July 1916. The work took several years to complete, being constructed around the existing converted church building to enable the theatre to operate throughout the construction period - the theatre was only closed for a short period to enable the demolition of the old church building once the exterior of the new building was complete. The, "Grand Reopening", of the Peoples' Picture Palace took place on 13 December, 1918.


The Peoples Pictures Ltd c1923 (Puke Ariki collection) 

Circa 1923 View: Puke Ariki Collection

The name changed to the Regent Theatre in 1930, and further extensive renovations, including some modernisation of the facade, was carried out in 1934. The Regent Theatre operated from the building until its closure in 1964.

The Govett- Brewster Art Gallery was the result of a generous bequest to the city in 1962 from Monica Brewster. The building was transformed and the gallery opened in February 1970. The architects were Bowering, Thomson, Boon and Associates, the contractors Bowers and Scweiters; the cost $130,000. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery on Queen Street was originally a picture theatre. Its transformation into an art gallery in 1970 is described in the NPDC Heritage Study as, "a brilliant adaptive re-use of a heritage building".

The gallery closed in 2013 for earthquake strengthening and the construction of the Len Lye Centre next door. It reopened on 25 July, 2015.

(See Caleb Wyatt's history of the building in Documents below)

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