Palais Theatre

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The Palais Theatre underwent a $20 million repair and restoration during 2016-17, securing its long term future as a live performance venue.

The iconic Palais Theatre was completed in 1927 and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The repair and refurbishment works addressed the building’s critical maintenance and refurbishment issues, securing the long-term future of the Palais Theatre as a live performance venue. The works included:

  • upgrading the theatre’s electrical system to modern standards
  • upgrades to the building’s fire protection systems
  • upgrades to disabled access and facilities
  • upgrades to various hydraulic systems
  • refurbishment of and repairs to the theatre’s exterior.

As part of the refurbishment, the Palais Theatre was repainted in its original colour – a sand tone consistent with the building’s c.1927 finish. The colour change was due to a requirement to paint the building in its original colour in Heritage Victoria’s permit for the restoration work.

The Palais Theatre was originally given a copperas finish, where an iron sulphate wash is applied to an external masonry render. The iron sulphate reacts with lime in the render creating a sandy, orange colour as it sets.

Copperas finishes were often used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to save money, as they were cheaper than the paint finishes available at the time.

The Palais Theatre’s former ‘off white’ colour dated  to the mid twentieth century, around the time  when the building was modified with a larger orchestra pit and additional dressing rooms to provide a venue for the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust.

By then the original copperas finish would have faded and become streaked leaving the building with a blotchy and uneven grey finish, most likely motivating the decision to repaint.

The original copperas finish colour was recreated in a paint medium. Heritage Victoria has a policy of encouraging repainting in original schemes, where there is evidence to determine the original colour tones. This can be seen in recent permits for Flinders Street Station, the Former Mail Exchange and Footscray Railway Station.

The Palais Theatre is expected to reopen  in May.

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