Living with History

The Empire Experiences all live in heritage-listed buildings with stories to tell.

ER is lucky enough to operate inside the stunning heritage-listed Plaza Theatre. Built in 1929, it is now one of only two atmospheric theatre buildings remaining in Australia.

The vaulted bright blue plaster ceiling was unique to the Australian atmospheric style in the 20s and featured suspended wooden cut-out clouds which were originally back-lit to simulate the moon behind the clouds. The designers borrowed heavily from Spanish and Middle Eastern architecture, with ornate archways, Roman columns and elaborate plasterwork throughout.

The Plaza Theatre was part of the fabric of Brisbane life in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Movie-goers rode the tram to and from, catching all the latest serials, newsreels and features seven days a week.

Sadly, the arrival of television in the 50s hit the theatre business hard, and the Plaza Theatre was closed in 1962. It began its retail life as Paddington Antique Centre in 1985 and has been evolving ever since. Our newest additions to the space, completed in 2020, are ‘The Cupboard Under the Stage’, where customers can browse through a vast collection of secondhand books, and the Loft Gallery, where every month we have a fabulous new exhibition for everyone to enjoy.

Because of its iconic history, we all have a strong appreciation for this building and are grateful to be part of the latest chapter in its story. We do all we can to preserve the integrity of the architecture; the quirks of this old building just make us love it more. Come see it for yourself and we guarantee you’ll love it too!

During 1909 Wiss Bros, already in business for 20 years, erected a new store – a large and attractive building that today is a striking feature of the area of the Scenic Rim. Designed by Ipswich architect, M W Haenke, the building features an elaborate decorative facade of Wunderlickh pressed metal designed to imitate bricks.

Having been vacant for many years, in 2022 the building opened once again as a dynamic boutique, l department-style store. 

Wiss Cottage is the first Australian home of German immigrant Lionel Wiss and  his young family. As newly-arrived merchants, they concentrated on building their mercantile business located next door so the cottage is modest but comfortable. Today it is fully restored while retaining the charm and simplicity of a home that is over 130 years old.

It has two bedrooms; a lounge and dining room with the original dividing wall removed; a kitchen separated from the main house by a breezeway that also houses the bathroom and toilet, and a pretty garden and outdoor area. The kitchen is functional but basic. The floors are the original raw floorboards throughout.