A Hong Kong heritage tour group is calling on the city’s preservation body to assess the historic value of the State Theatre Building in North Point as soon as possible amid
Located at the corner of King’s Road and Tin Chong Street on Hong Kong Island, the State Theatre Building is best known for the iconic parabola-arched structures on its roof.
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According to records from the Antiquities Advisory Board, the former theatre building has been on the board’s list of buildings for assessment since September last year. But the board’s expert panel has yet to propose a grading for it.
“What I worry about the most is the theatre will be torn down just like Tung Tak Pawn Shop,” said Haider Kikabhoy, co-founder of Walk In Hong Kong, a tour group which has been leading heritage walks in the city since 2013. “It is the responsibility of the Antiquities Advisory Board to do justice to the building. They should make the State Theatre a monument.”
The complex contains a shopping mall, a snooker club and about 200 residential flats.
Last year, Tung Tak Pawn Shop, a Grade III historic building in Wan Chai, was demolished to make way for a commercial tower despite efforts by community activists to save it.
He submitted a letter to the Antiquities Advisory Board to call for an accurate assessment of the building.
“If every time we make a call only when a developer starts to fence off a building, it will be too late,” he said.
To ascertain the rarity of the building, Kikabhoy had spoken to six experts, including Dr Lee Ho-yin, director of the University of Hong Kong’s architectural conservation programme.
Lee concluded: “There is no other building in Hong Kong that has adopted reinforced concrete external parabolic trusses. As far as I know, it is very likely to be one of a kind in Asia.”
Originally called the Empire Theatre when it opened in 1952, the cinema complex had a busy life until it ceased to operate in 1997. Performers who once graced its stage included the late British tenor Peter Pears, Katherine Dunham’s Broadway dance company and the late Taiwanese pop singer Teresa Teng.
The architecture of the theatre is so unique that it was featured prominently in the 1998 film The Longest Summer by Hong Kong director Fruit Chan.
A New World spokeswoman said the company would not comment.