Leeton’s Art Deco Era

LEETON is fortunate that the town was planned during 1911 by Department of Works draftsmen and then a ‘Plan of Extension’ in 1914 by W B Griffin who went on to design our Capital – Canberra as well as Griffith our neighbouring town.  A lasting memory of Griffin and his wife Marion (Mahoney) is the frieze they designed on our water towers.

Leeton’s Water Towers

The Free Classical Style which followed later was within a few years overtaken by shops with features of Art Deco – the rendered and decorated parapets, plaster motifs and fins on facades, suspended awnings with pressed metal ceilings, recessed doorways, leadlight windows, wrought iron panels and decorative ceramic tiling.

This Art Deco era began following an ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’, exhibition in Paris, France in 1925.

It is a modern decorative style which symbolised the new spirit of the 20th Century which included technology, architecture and fashion and an increasing freedom in design, especially for women.

One fine example of an Art Deco designed building is at 119-121 Pine Ave, the ornate parapet across the three shops, the beautiful stepped entranceway, the patterned tiles, the glass display cabinets and the wooden linings in the empty shop at 119 remain as a testament to this era.

119-121 Pine Ave Leeton

Other architectural interests in Leeton are the bigger buildings, constructed or renovated during the 1930’s – the State Bank now an office building, Commonwealth Bank, Antoinette’s Jewellers which was once the Bank of NSW, W C & I C Office now owned by the Council, the Band Rotunda, S Richards Department Store now Best & Less, the Wade Hotel and even our majestic Hydro Hotel and Roxy Theatre are fine examples of the architecture of this period.

Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission (WC&IC)

We were fortunate to have a very capable local Architect in George W A Welch (1887-1959) who designed many early buildings in the Art Deco style in Leeton including the one just mentioned above at 119-121 Pine Ave.   

A few others include the Roman Catholic Church now a school building in Church St, the Kinloch Buildings at 31-45 Pine Ave, Leeton Steel Retail at 32 Pine Ave and the Wade Hotel & Chambers.

The Wade Hotel

Other local Architects and builders of this early era include Thomas H Owen – Builder & Architect; William H Jones – Builder; Thomas J Ashton – Builder;  Edgar (Tony) Bacon – Designer & Builder;  R Murray Beer – Builder; and Kinloch Bros – Designers & Builders and A T Mackay – Builder.

Access a more detailed list of Leeton’s art deco building’s here.

Some of the Art Deco features throughout Leeton – photo credit: Leeton Business Chamber

Guided tours of Leeton’s art deco architecture will be held on Saturday 13th July. See our events page for more details.

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