Chapter 8
Accessing Melbourne
The Regent is regarded as probably the best example of the combined Spanish
Gothic and French Renaissance revival styles. Where the State Theatre was
 atmospheric  the Regent was lavish and opulent. Built as two entertainment
venues, the Regent Theatre upstairs catered for 3,500 patrons while the Plaza
Ballroom was designed for dining and dancing. However, it was soon converted
to a cinema creating Australia's first duplex. The building is notable as a
monument to FW Thring who established the Regent chain of theatres in
Australia and for the amount of public interest and scrutiny which surrounded
its redevelopment.
The Regent lay in decay since closing in 1969 and despite 15 different
proposals for its redevelopment it was not until 1993 that it was given a new
lease of life by the Marriner group and reopened in 1996.
Access: The accessible entry to the Regent is from Watson Lane off Flinders
Lane which runs behind the theatre. A staff member will meet you. Accessible
seating is allocated in the Stalls and accessible unisex toilets are available in
the Stalls Foyer. Access into the Plaza Ballroom is from Collins St via a door
which is staffed during functions. A lift is available to Plaza Ballroom level
where ramps lead to the ballroom area, two accessible toilets are provided for
on the Ballroom level.
Athenaeum Theatre
184 192 Collins St, Athenaeum Theatre.
History: The Athenaeum Theatre occupies a site forming part of the Mechanics
Institute which was inaugurated at a meeting held in late 1839 and formed to
disseminate scientific and other useful knowledge among its members and the
general community. Members of the first Board of Management were Charles
La Trobe and William Lonsdale.
Commenced in 1842 and occupied in 1843, it was a two storey rendered brick
structure behind a cast iron fence and with a Doric porticoed entrance. It
contained a library, reading room, a Hall in which the Municipal Council met and
where other important meetings were held. Two single storey wings were
added by 1857 and in 1872 a new Hall was opened by the Governor.
In 1921 the hall was leased to a Frank Talbot, who converted the hall into a
theatre by 1924. The Athenaeum was the first Australian theatre to screen
talking films in 1929. The Athenaeum today is a three storey brick building with

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