Manly Town Hall could again be the heart of the community under a plan to open the top floor for community events. The spacious area (pictured below) served for many years as Manly's Council Chambers.
Northern Beaches Councillor Candy Bingham, who has been driving the proposal, said the stately building was the perfect place to bring new life to Manly Village.
"Manly needs more variety in what people can do after dark," Cr Bingham said. "You can go to the pub, or go out to eat - we don't even have a cinema anymore."
She said the upstairs hall could be used in the short term for talks, film screening or concerts, and in the longer term it could be transformed into an art gallery, museum, cinema or performance space.
"There are some really exciting ideas out there," Cr Bingham said.
While the present building was opened in November 1937, the Manly Council Chambers have stood on that site since 1909 as a gateway to Manly. It has been the home of Manly Council until amalgamation and the formation of Northern Beaches Council in 2016.
With the new council based in Dee Why, in the former Warringah Council chambers, the upstairs section of Manly Town Hall is underused. The downstairs houses a Council Service Centre, which the Council promises will always remain in Manly, plus council department offices.
Many people are familiar with the exterior of the heritage-listed building, with its Corinthian columns and imposing façade, but may be less aware of the elegant art deco interior of the upper floor. The wide staircase to the first floor features a stained-glass skylight and leads up to a gallery lined with portraits of councillors past who have served Manly. The high-ceilinged Council Chamber still retains many of its original features including dark wood doors, wainscoting and ceiling light fittings.
The proposal to make use of the venue in the short-term was passed at the August Council meeting. The plan, which will include hiring charges and what types of uses are appropriate, will soon be put out on public consultation.
"This fantastic venue has the potential to transform Manly into a much more cultural and exciting place to live," Cr Bingham said.
How do you see Manly Town Hall?
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.