Early in 1925, the good folks at Blockhouse Bay asked the Avondale Borough Council for a public hall. After all, Avondale had just swished up the Town Hall by finishing the 1915 part and shifting the old wooden hall to the side - why not treat Avondale South to a hall as well? No, said the Council, we'd rather sort out your water, roads etc.
During 1925, three immigrants arrived from England -- carpenter Ole August Guttormsen and his sisters Helga and Annie. Ole purchased the corner section of Donovan and Blockhouse Bay Road (that part then called Wynyard Road) and by early 1926 he was in the process of building the hall on his land, fronting Donovan. Maybe he thought he'd try running the hall, earn money, then reinvest in building shops along the rest of the frontage, as a lot of spec-builders did in those days? Who knows? It ended up, though, that he only did the hall, and it opened on 12 June 1926 as the Blockhouse Bay Hall, a dance venue featuring a "perfect floor" and jazz music until 11pm on Saturday nights.
Another proprietor took over in 1928, by which time Guttormsen had arranged a projector for the hall, and was showing silent movies, at least now and then (these weren't advertised in the papers as the dances were). Guttormsen moved to Te Awamutu, but retained ownership until 1935. By which time, after two more proprietors, sound equipment was installed for the movies, but the dances held sway until the late 1930s or so. The hall was also used for community meetings, like those of the Avondale Women’s Group, political speeches during elections, and as a polling place.
Real Estate agent Douglas Fleming purchased the property and the hall in 1944, and the little cinema was finally given its own name, the Beverley, at least until 1953 when there was a further sale, to Frederick Ofsoske. Now, a further and last renaming, to the Kosy Theatre, and alterations to the front which added a new entry, and two shops either side, a hairdresser and a dairy. It was here that Jan Grefstad worked, rising to manager of the cinema, before he headed north to Avondale and his fame with the Hollywood from 1966.
They say TV doomed the Kosy. Just as Blockhouse Bay began to truly boom in terms of urban population, the business had a harder and harder time attracting customers. The cinema itself closed in the late 1960s, the building used for other purposes for a while, then it was demolished in January 1973. The site today is part of the car park in front of Countdown Supermarket.
I'd love to see any readers' memories of the hall/cinema.
Contributors include Timespanner and other historians