In the heart of Franklin, you'll find the Palais Theatre, an 88-year-old Heritage building that serves as the community hall. The architecture is a blend of federation and art deco styles. It is grand old reminder of a bygone era, recently reopened after an extensive community restoration effort.
Originally opened in 1912, it was completely funded and built by the local community at a time when farming and fruit industries were not always prosperous. It took less than a year of construction to complete the hall, then larger than the Hobart Town Hall of the time.
Franklin was the seat of local government for the Huon Valley during that period. When the foundation stone was laid in December 1911, The Warden of the day placed several copies of the Huon Times Newspaper in a bottle in the ground just below it.
Dances, balls and cinema were among the regular events held at Franklin's Palais, especially during the 50's and 60's. Following the mid 70's, a period of neglect saw the venue to fall into disrepair.
A drive to restore the building culminated recently with a Grand Ball celebration, which marked the reopening in September 2000. The Palais was once the social hub of the Huon, and just to prove the old lady could still put on a show, the "dress to impress" event attracted over 250 patrons. Tickets sold out early. It was a rare chance for locals to change their boots for polished shoes and kick up their heels. Minks and other furs wended in the crowd of silks, suits and gowns; there were top hats too. (Some women wore the dresses their mothers & grandmothers had worn there in earlier days). The night was an outrageous success, raising $5,000 for further restoration efforts.
The revitalisation of the Palais as a cultural centre has increased the level of optimism and community spirit in Franklin. Symbolising the social heart and great tradition of the Huon, the Palais Theatre serves a variety of functions and is available for bookings.
More photographs | BACK | HOME | TOP
A SturmSoft creation.
© Jonathan Sturm 2001