It was an era of great innovative design at its height in the 1930’s. You know, suave, sophisticated, elegant and sexy. Think beautiful ladies in slinky dresses smoking from long cigarette holders, and guys in tuxes or hand-crafted tailored suits with cocktails at the ready.
Think long streamlined autos lathered in crome. Think cutting edge architecture never seen before, not a style revival, but a brand new look. Think speed lines, zig zags and ziggurats.
If you are a fan you probably will have been to Napier in New Zealand – the Art Deco capital of the world, where the city fathers and merchants have capitalised on an earthquake, and a wonderful job promoted by their Art Deco Trust. Or perhaps to Katoomba where the main street is solid Art Deco and all the above awning commercial signage has been removed to reveal the glory. The paint jobs there have been started, and will be stunning once all the buildings have been done.
And yes, somehow Deco architecture made it to country Bathurst, and amazingly still remains. We have a superb example in the Carillon, and nearby in the Knickerbocker Hotel – not just outside, but also the internal foyer and stairwell. Think also the former Regency Jewellers on the corner of William and Howick, which started life as a bank, where the paint job and signage is so much better than before. Around the corner in George Street are two excellent small examples, one with ziggurats.
My mate Mick, the sage of Wisemans Creek, informs me that ziggurats were a form of temple common to the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians of ancient Mesopotamia.The earliest examples of the ziggurat date from the end of the third millennium BC and the latest date from the 6th century BC. Funny what Mick knows.
But the building I think is best is the former St Mary’s School in William Street (now Centrecare). Its façade is pure Stripped Classical Deco style – have a close look at the detail.
Thought of the week “what if Bathurst’s best rendered Art Deco commercial facades were stripped of their above awing signage and repainted in true Art Deco colours”
by a humble heritage advocate – March 2023