Russian roots of Randwick Ritz cinema

Randwick Ritz cinema is an iconic cinema loved by the local community and everyone who lives in Eastern suburbs in Sydney.

The 1937 building of the cinema was bought by property developer Jack Ziade more than 30 years ago only to be demolished when the heritage order was placed on Ritz.  In 1997 Ziade family beat a legal challenge from Hoyts to add three cinemas into the adjoining building and in 2001 built another two on the other side – the modern additions complementing the main art-deco building.

Today the Ritz Theatre at 43-47 St Pauls Road in Randwick is the last known surviving theatre designed by Aaron Bolot, an architect who was born in Russia.

Aaron Bolot was born in Simferopol, Crimea on 14 February 1900 into the family of Miron/Muron/Meyer and Sophia Bolotinsky who decided to shorten the surname in Australia to Bolot.  The family arrived to Australia by Nikko Maru on 3 October 1911 and originally settled in Queensland.  By early 1930s Aaron was living in Sydney with his two brothers David and Leon and the rest of the Bolot clan.

His father Muron was born in Poltava, Ukraine on 12.7.1870 and was a butcher by trade (at least this is what the Australian records state).  There is a very interesting and an important Russian document in his naturalization file at National Archives of Australia -a permission to live outside of Pale of Settlement, confirming that Muron lived in Simferopol on 21.11.1906 and his full name was Meyer Tovalev Bolotinskiy.

“Muron was brought up in a deeply orthodox atmosphere.  Not only was he educated in a Cheder, but he was closely associated in the management of Chevra, which was founded and wholly maintained by his father.  Migrating to Australia in 1911, he settled in Brisbane, where he soon established himself as a proud, professing Jew, held In wide esteem by the general and Jewish community. He took an active part in communal and Zionist affairs, and was’ for four years hon. secretary of the Brisbane Central Synagogue.”, The Hebrew Standard of Australasia, 16 February 1947

Aaron’s uncle Naum Davas Bolotinsky (aka John Bolot)(born 1888, Poltava) was the first member of the family to arrive to Australia in 1910.  He established himself as an “interior and exterior decorator, paper hanging [specialist] and artistic painter and sign writer”.  Another uncle John Bolot, also known as a Professor Bolot, was an owner of Sydney French Dancing Academy at 66 Oxford-street and a well-known personality among Sydney sportsmen.

In Australia Aaron Bolot finished Brisbane’s State High School and decided on a professional career of a clerk but quickly cast it aside in favour of architecture which he followed in the office of R. Gailey, the well-known architect of Brisbane.

In his second year of studies for the Architectural Diploma he took first prize and honour and a special prize for the History of Architecture in the State of Queensland and another special prize for planning and designing.  By 1925 he was admitted as an Associate member of the Queensland Institute of Architects.

After moving to Sydney in early 1930s, Aaron Bolot assisted Walter Burley Griffin on the Pyrmont and Willoughby incinerators project.

Late 1930s saw him as an independent practitioner who specialised in theatres and apartment buildings with works including Dorchester House at 149 Macquarie Street (1936); the Randwick Ritz, Hoyts Goulburn and the Wyong Astra (1937); Wentworth Towers with E.C. Pitt (1938); Ashdown, Elizabeth Bay Road, Elizabeth Bay (1938), Gosford Regal Theatre (1938), the New Melba Theatre at Bourke Street in Melbourne (1938); Hensley Hall at Bellevue Hill (1939); Wests Theatre in Nowra (1941) and a residence at Beauty Point (1942). Oatley Radio theatre designed by Aaron was opened in 1942.

Using the words of Powerhouse Museum’s curator of design and society, Dr Charles Pickett,

“From the 1930s to the ’60s, Bolot designed more apartments than anyone in Sydney and in quite a range of styles.” 17 Wylde Street, a curvaceous and innovative building in which living areas are to the front, kitchens and bathrooms to the rear, is a Potts Point landmark and “by far the best” thing Bolot designed.” 

An apartment building at 17 Wylde Street in Potts Point was designed in 1948 and was completed in late 1951.  Due to shortages in building materials, this apartment building was one of the largest buildings of any type to be constructed in the inner city area of Sydney following the Second World War. The building was registered in 1997 with the Register of the National Estate as historically significant.

The Neuweg Synagogue (7 Ocean Street Woollahra) and the administration building to the north of the temple building were also designed by Aaron Bolot, a member of Temple Emanuel congregation, in 1966 and are of cultural significance as well as an accomplished example of his work.

Aaron died in 1989 however I was unable to find his burial among 16 listings of members of Bolot family, who are buried at Rookwood Jewish cemetery (records of the Jewish part of the cemetery are digitized and can be searched electronically on internet at http://www.rookwoodjewishcemetery.com.au/).

But as Shannon L Adler said”:

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.”

For the last six years selected NSW architects receive an “Aaron Bolot Award for Residential Architecture -Multiple Housing ” for their achievements as a way of public and peer recognition .  The award was established in 2009 to honor the architect’s career.

 

Sources:

Timeline

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Bolot

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/ushering-in-the-golden-age-of-cinema/2008/11/21/1226770737805.html

http://www.teachingheritage.nsw.edu.au/section07/ritz_bolot.php

“”MR. AARON BOLOT, A.Q.I.A.“The Hebrew Standard of Australasia (Sydney, NSW : 1895 – 1953) Friday 25 September 1925 p 7 Article Illustrated

http://travelinsider.qantas.com.au/australia/sydney/things-to-do/sydney-modernist-monuments

 

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