Entertainment on the Crescent
In the early years of the twentieth century, Fairfield was a popular weekend centre for leisure activities, with picnic, games areas, dance hall, roller skating rink, boxing stadium and cinema.
The Carter family of Smithfield built the first timber and corrugated-iron hall in 1910. After its extensive fire damage, Alexander Herrmann rebuilt the “Butterfly Hall” and renamed it “Fairfield Picture Palace”. It opened its doors on the 28th October 1914 and was able to seat 2000 people in one picture show every Saturday. In 1918, he sold his business to Mrs Mainsbridge and the cinema was renamed as the “Butterfly”.
In 1916, a rival cinema, The “Crescent” opened on the Crescent, Fairfield. The cinema was owned by J. J. Woods, which subsequently changed hands and pass on to Frank Durbin, then to Mr Margettes, then on to Mr Eric Christensen (who rebuilt and refurbished the theatre to the requires standards and renamed it the “Plaza”) and finally to Wagga Entertainment Ltd before it became part of a shopping complex.
The Plaza Theatre (Cinema)
Film exhibitors Eric and Cecilia Christensen came to Fairfield in 1928 and leased the ramshackle Crescent Theatre from the Margettes Family. The building was condemned as unsafe, so the building was rebuilt and named the Plaza Theatre and became an instant success. Their success led them to acquire further cinema leases, until, at one period during the Depression, they were conducting four venues simultaneously in Fairfield and Cabramatta.
The Christensen’s advertised their films in a flamboyant but effective manner. The Christensens did all their own promotions and went to considerable length to advertise coming attractions. Eg. A Mickey Mouse advertisement for the Saturday Matinee at the Plaza Theatre. Eric and Cecilia Christensen also walked around Fairfield and dressed up as “Laurel and Hardy” or “Dave” from the popular film series “Dad and Dave”, handing out leaflets advertising the live appearances of Bert Bailey (Grandad Rudd) at the Plaza Cinema.
The owners of the Crescent Cinema also made good use of Fairfield Station and the back of the local bus to advertise their program. Apart from the posters & billboards at Fairfield Station, the only advertising Eric and Cecilia Christensen could afford in the cash-strapped days of the Great Depression was to dress up and hand out pamphlets or little penny of Nestle chocolates to the school children outside the Fairfield Public School on Friday afternoon.
[Source: “Fairfield: a history of the district” by Vance George]