It was built in 1931 René Charbonneau as the main architect working with designers Emmanuel Briffa on the interior and Joseph Guardo on the exterior.
The central section of the facade features an arched form flanked by stone figures and including long-necked waterbirds, stylised floral decoration and a horizontal band with a wave motif.
There is minimal decoration on the side of the building but it does include reliefs of Comedy and Tragedy masks representative motifs of the performing arts.
Just about the only colour on the facade is in the form of two large stained-glass windows with a rising or setting sun. I like to think that even through Emmanuel Briffa worked on the interior of this theatre he may have brought some Egyptian inspiration from his work several years early on another Montreal cinema, the Empress Theatre, and influenced the design of these windows. The window on the left could show a rising sun against a seascape but the other window, to my mind, is a setting sun against the Giza pyramids. Egyptians considered the west, where the sun sets, as the realm of the dead and sited their pyramids and tombs accordingly.
Even if Briffa did not influence the design of the exterior of the Chateau Theatre, his work on the interior is glorious.
This is some of the detail from the foyer.
It is rich in decoration whereever you look. From the stylised sunburst to the stained glass built into the cornice and the central lamp fitting.
I'm not sure what the dark disk in the ceiling is, perhaps a vent of the remains of an earlier light fitting. Even so it has a quality look to it.
The detail above the exit of the main auditorium shows some more of the rich decoration in this theatre. Here you can see griffins an perhaps a winged horse alongside stylised floral forms.
I don't usually post photos with people in them but this one at the Château shows what we are like when we tour a building during a World Congress on Art Deco. And I had fun picking out some people. Our guides Jack & Jean-Yves. Colin from Montreal, Lynley from Melbourne, Peter from Sydney, Mick from Asheville, Rory from Los Angeles, Bob from Dublin, Robyn from Melbourne, Jo from London, Jan from Sydney and Mary from Dublin.
But forget about the people and have a look at the decoration on the wall and proscenium arch of this glorious theatre.
MELBOURNE ART DECO
In 2009 Robin Grow published a book on Melbourne Art Deco, with images largely supplied by David Thompson. The book quickly sold out and he is pleased to say that it has now been re-published by Brolga Press, with updates, errors corrected and a new cover.
Best of all, it is selling for about $25 in the shops and on-line. Art Deco & Modernism Society members can purchase a copy from me for $22, (includes postage within Australia). For overseas orders please email for postage rates. Contact me at email@example.com if you are interested, and advise if you would like the book to be dedicated and/or signed.