The Civic, and the Wintergarden beneath it, is a fever dream. Located in the heart of Auckland, it was opened in 1929 as the city’s premier picture palace. It is the product of a slightly crazed decade speeding toward inevitable collapse - with a fantastical interior featuring illuminated wild animals, exotic figures, and motifs, all held under a twinkling night sky. But The Civic was not just a cinema. It housed a ballet, an orchestra, and downstairs - the Wintergarden.
This dance-hall and restaurant was resplendent - international chefs, a hundred staff, its own house band, and an artistic director fresh from Los Angeles and Sydney. It was ambitious, sensational, and chaotic. And then, ten months later, it was over.
In the early 1940s, The Civic and Wintergarden came alive again. They were a cultural catalyst, as precocious local talent collided with international artistic juggernauts, fuelled by the extravagant spending of American servicemen. There was even a murder scandal. Later, the Rolling Stones played from a golden barge that floated above the Wintergarden.
To us, the Wintergarden represents an ambitious and iconoclastic part of humanity and history that excites us so much. We cannot wait to add to its story.