The Lux – East Hastings Street

The Lux

The Lux was a locally designed theatre (although really a movie house) that lasted for over 50 years on East Hastings Street. We looked for a ‘before’ image for a long time before coming across this image from 1994 on Christian Dahlberg’s website devoted to Vancouver’s neon. The Lux was built in 1939 and finally closed in the 1990s after a last-ditch attempt to keep it going by advertising its presence with the dramatic paint job and the offer of a $2.50 double bill. It had briefly taken on a new role in the late 1980s and early 90s as a real theatre – mostly as home to local punk music events. It was a local visual landmark, photographed by both Fred Herzog and Greg Girard.

Princess TheatreThe Lux was originally built by the Odeon chain, designed by Thomas L Kerr who also designed the Odeon on Granville Street (still standing today, much altered and now closed), and had around 900 seats.

It wasn’t the first theatre on the site – that was the Princess. The Princess appears around 1910 (the first reference to it in the Street Directory). Although it has been attributed to E E Blackmore with Charles Shand (who designed the Empress Theatre across the street) we haven’t been able to confirm that, and have some doubts that they were involved. In 1910 there was a $1,000 alteration permit for the theatre carried out by Irwin, Carver & Co for owner and architect (supposedly) Angelo Calori; the Italian hotelier who had recently built the Hotel Europe. There is a court case in December 1905 with Calori contesting a Mr Andrews’ attempt to renege on a deal to sell him a property on Hastings Street. From what we can tell it is the theatre lots. He was successful in gaining ownership by 1907. There is a clipping from March 1910 with him taking out a permit to build a one storey building at a cost of $8,000 pretty much on the site of the theatre, and then the conversion to the theatre (actually a purpose-built movie theatre) that year. (We’d guess Norman Leech was a more likely architect; he designed something similar on Granville Street around this time).

Although this picture is thought to date to around 1920, it’s almost certainly earlier. Both movies that are showing ‘One Month To Live’ and ‘Cowboy for a Day’ were silent films released in 1911. The theatre however was far from silent – it had a pipe organ installed in 1911, hence the notice ‘The Home of the PIPE ORGAN – step in and hear it’

Today there’s a new Lux; one of the more recent non-market housing schemes funded by the Provincial government on land provided by the City of Vancouver. Designed by Gomberoff Bell Lyon and managed by Raincity housing, the Lux provides 92 apartments and was completed in 2009. The site is slightly larger than the cinema, incorporating another building site, but the Lux name lives on in the same location.

Image Sources: Christian Dahlberg, Vancouverneon.com, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-867

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Posted December 18, 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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