An art deco building in Somerset, always used for entertainment and leisure, has been transformed into a stylish new restaurant, bringing New York standard dining to the town of Street.
Local entrepreneur Kevin Newton and his restoration team have brought back to life the features from the “Great Gatsby” era to create Pillars Bar and Grill in the building in Leigh Road, Street that opened as a theatre in 1921, was a cinema for many years and was a nightclub until it closed after a New Year’s Eve Party in 2016.
Original features, including an arched tin ceiling, have been painstakingly restored and twinned with stunning furniture and fixtures. The £1 million project incorporates features celebrating the history of the building with a big screen installed, a baby grand piano for visiting performers and a ceiling feature created from the nightclub décor. Stunning new art deco doors form the entrance while a garden is accessed through bi-fold doors.
William Hecks, who was landlord of the Street Inn during the 1920s and local butcher Bill Voaks, wanted a cinema in the town and commissioned and paid for the building, which opened at the Playhouse Theatre in 1921. It was later converted to a cinema.
Hecks, whose farming family started making traditional farmhouse cider in 1841 and still do locally today, had moved to the town as pub landlord during tough farming times.
Architect Samuel Thompson Clothier, son-in-law of William S. Clark of the well-known shoe company, designed the building. Because it was the brainchild of the local publican and butcher the cinema was originally given the nickname “beer and bones” by local people.
The butcher’s wife performed the official opening on January 15, 1921, but the two men weren’t entirely happy with the design and there was a legal dispute following its construction after they complained that the seats were too close together and there was no emergency exit.
But the cinema became popular with the public watching some classic movies until in 1946 it was renamed Maximes Cinema, becoming Maximes Nightclub in 1989 and this century it underwent a major refurbishment as Envy.
The original theatre had four changing rooms, a 20 feet stage under a proscenium arch, which has been incorporated into the new building above a piano deck.
Kevin Newton said: “It is a building that has always provided leisure and entertainment for people and Pillars Bar and Grill will continue that tradition. There has been a fantastic response from local people as it has brought back to life a building that has been closed for two years.
“We have restored many of the original features and introduced some glitz and glamour and when you are sat in there you could just as easily be in New York or a fashionable part of London. We have brought back entertainment with pianists, guitarists and vocalists and on Sunday we have a Jazz brunch.”