Restore old cinema building, preserving its unique architecture

By Aida Aziz

IPOH: The nostalgia of old cinema theaters always lingers in the soul for anyone who has had the opportunity to experience watching movies in them.

This is because cinemas have now changed according to the times and are often found in shopping centers, besides using advanced systems.

In fact, in most cinemas, self-service systems are already used for ticket purchases, including selecting seats on the provided touch screens.

Talking about old cinemas in Perak, especially in Ipoh, many parties have started taking steps to renovate and breathe new life into these buildings by repurposing them.

Reflecting on that history in Ipoh, the Secretary of the Perak Heritage Association, Nor Hisham Zulkiflee, mentioned that there are several old cinemas that are still intact and once thrived during their heyday.

“In the past, Ipoh was known as the millionaire’s city, it also served as an entertainment hub for the Kinta Valley with many mining activities, at that time cinemas emerged.

“There were about seven cinemas here, namely Rex, Lido, Cathay, Odeon, Ruby, Sun, and Majestic with five of them in Pekan Baru.

“The first cinema in Ipoh was actually introduced in 1909, namely the Yau Tet Shin cinema in Pekan Baru and it was a silent film (no sound).

“It can be said that cinemas at that time were provided by mining tycoons and private companies,” he said.”

The addition of sound to cinema began on November 25, 1929, at the Sun Cinema located on Jalan Sultan Idris.

After that, the peak of cinema’s glory in the city began from the 1930s to the 1960s when the Danish architect, B.M. Iversen, started building luxurious buildings with modern architecture.

“The Ruby Cinema was opened in 1938 on Jalan Raja Musa Aziz and was inaugurated by Resident G.E. Cator on October 4 of the same year. It was closed in 1990 and is now a restaurant.

“Odeon was built in 1938 on Jalan Sultan Idris, Rex on Jalan Raja Muda Musa Aziz, and Majestic around the 1940s on Jalan C.M Yusuf. They closed in 1998 and were once furniture shops before being demolished to build apartments.

“Lido and Cathay (now turned into restaurants) were built in 1957 and were quite popular in the 1960s,” he said.

Therefore, he said, the previous suggestion by the Perak State Exco encouraging the reuse of old buildings to be turned into hotels could be extended to cinemas.

Not only can it attract many tourists here, but it can also preserve heritage buildings that are still in good condition and cherished by the current generation.

Indeed, there have been some parties in Ipoh inclined to take over and minimally renovate the building into restaurants, cafes, furniture shops, and so on.

“The atmosphere inside the building evokes memories, coupled with unique architecture, it could also become a tourist icon.

“Not only in Ipoh but in Perak, there are still many old cinemas preserved, it is hoped that the local authorities or tourism authorities can make it another product,” he said.

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