Mackay boasts one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco architecture in Queensland. After a devastating cyclone in 1918 much of the city was rebuilt in the Art Deco style, chosen for its association with “progress”. The Civic Theatre became a celebrated addition to this dominate modern streetscape of Gordon street . The cinema was built in 1940 by the Taylor family who were leading theatre proprietors in Mackay for more than six decades. They purportedly spent “a huge sum of money” on the project, regarding it a monument to their family’s legacy. To fulfil their ambition for a theatre that would rival any in the Commonwealth, they contracted

The Taylor family operated the Civic Theatre until 1972 when it was bought by Birch Carroll and Coyle (later Event Cinemas). It was refurbished in 1975 and reopened as the Mackay City Cinema. Sydney firm Crick and Furse to design the Civic in collaboration with Mackay architect, Harold Brown. Guy Crick and Bruce Furse were the pre-eminent designers of Art Deco cinemas in the country;

The theatres they created represented all that was considered to be modern and comfortable.” First air condition building in Mackay. Mackay’s Civic Theatre was built in the streamlined moderne style of Art Deco, characterised by its asymmetrical concrete facade emphasising horizontal lines, as well as rounded porthole windows. When the cinema first opened , the Daily mercury  hailed it “an imposing sight, as it rears its ornate head over the surrounding buildings.”

Its Art Deco features are concealed behind a remodelled facade and interior. There are reports of cinema staff who have glimpsed some of the building’s Art Deco traces beneath the present-day cladding, suggesting that while this history is no longer visible to most, it still lingers under the surface.

The 1100-seat cinema was described as a template of “refinement, comfort and modernity”, with plate-glass doors, sliver ash panelling, soft pastel colours, mirrored columns, padded lounge chairs, and deep pile carpet supplied by Grace Bros in Sydney. Features considered particularly novel for a regional cinema included air conditioning, a neon multi-coloured lighting system that gradually changed hue, and the latest in sound and projection technology. These innovations made it the best-appointed cinema in North Queensland.