Leeton was settled early in the 1900s, with the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission erecting many of its earliest buildings as a temporary measure to encourage businesses to set up shop in Leeton.
The legendary American architectural team of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahoney Griffin were busy on the design of Australia's new capital city at Canberra and also produced a town plan for Griffith with a 'plan of extension' for Leeton, completed in 1914. Many of their designs were in the Art Deco style.
As our town developed, more permanent facilities and business premises followed, with many designed (or re-modelled) in the new Art Deco style a name acquired following the 'Exposition Des Art Decoratifs' exhibition held in France in 1925. The Art Deco style, the first truly international style, affected all areas of design during this period, with global changes in fields as diverse as architecture, furniture, fashion, art, jewellery, dance, sculpture, printing, film, photography, household goods and industrial design. In our streets the architectural features, of Art Deco styling are everywhere: rounded corners; stepped rooflines sometimes punctuated by dramatic vertical fins lit by neon signage; zigzags, chevrons and parallel lines (in groups of three) adorned building parapets. Terrazzo tiling in doorways, metal trims around windows and colourful wall tiles adorning the shop facades along with beautiful stained-glass panels are also features from this era.
We are lucky here in Leeton that so many of these buildings with these architectural features have survived. Buildings like our beautiful Roxy Theatre, the Hydro, the WC&IC Building, the Commonwealth Bank, the Irrigator office, and the Wade and Leeton Hotels are prime examples of larger premises built during this period with these Art Deco features. On all four corners of the intersection of Pine Ave with Jarrah Mall and Maple St are buildings with many Art Deco features. In all, we have over 30 buildings recognised by the Art Deco Society of Australia.
Leeton has so much to offer, so while walking along the street glance across the road and look up above the verandas and you will notice the shaped parapets, Juliet balconies, the vertical fins and chevrons, the stepped rooflines and much, much more.
During the upcoming Art Deco Festival in mid-July, many of these buildings will be showcased with walking tours and self-guided tours pointing out the features of the Art Deco era.
Heritage Plaques (stage 1) identifying some of our earliest buildings will be unveiled also during the festival weekend.
Leeton Family & Local History Society