Princess Theatre, Woolloongabba

Princess Theatre, 8 Annerley Road, Woolloongabba

The heritage-listed Princess Theatre is the only remaining 19th century theatre in Brisbane. It was built during the economic and building boom of the 1880s at a time when live entertainment was popular and ornate theatres were the norm.The theatre was designed by Brisbane architect John Beauchamp Nicholson who also designed other heritage-listed buildings including the Taylor-Heaslop Building and Norman Hotel in Woolloongabba.

It was built in 1888-89 as an investment for prominent Brisbane solicitor Phillip Hardgrave, son of ex-mayor John Hardgrave and opened on 6 April 1889 as the South Brisbane Public Hall. In 1892 it was renamed the Boggo Road Theatre. In 1893 John Hardgrave bought it from his son and called it the Princess Theatre. In 1899 it was bought by draper John Finney who turned it into a clothing factory. From 1912 to the 1920s it was a silent movie theatre, with Charlie Chaplin films drawing big crowds.

When live theatre became popular again in the 1930s developing amateur theatrical groups such as the Brisbane Amateurs Theatre (now Brisbane Arts Theatre), the Brisbane Repertoire Theatre Society (now La Boite Theatre Group) and the Twelfth Night Theatre put on performances.

On stage photograph of the Marie Knight Corkran Operatic Society production of 'Madam Butterfly' at the Princess Theatre in 1937. Standing in front of an elaborately painted oriental backcloth is, from left to right, the male and female chorus in Japanese-style costume, Kenneth Neate as Pinkerton, W. R. A. McAlpine as the Bonze, and Marie Knight Corkran as Madam Butterfly and an unidentified man. The orchestra is visible in front of the stage. (photo and description SLQ).

From 1942 to 1945 the theatre was used as the administrative and rehearsal centre for the United States Entertainment Unit. It continued to be used by other public theatre and dance groups as well as for boxing matches and public meetings.

Due to declining attendances, the theatre was closed to the public from 1949 – 1985 and was rented to a variety of small business enterprises including a secondhand dealer, paper wholesaler and an engineering firm. From 1948-1979 the stage and back stage area were leased to a printing firm.

In 1985 the REMM group purchased the building and carried out extensive external restoration. The Twelfth Night Theatre Group accepted a ten-year lease and carried out internal refurbishments. Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties, their last performance was in 1991.

In 2001 it was leased by the Metro Central Community Church (now Lifecity Church) and bought by them in 2003. Church services and other events are held in the former theatre and the venue is hired out theatre performances, evens and wedding. Original interior features such as the plaster ceilings and architraves, plush velvet curtains, polished floors are intact.

The theatre  was entered on the State Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.  For  full listing information see

Looking down on the Princess Theatre from Mater Hospital opposite.