Hippolyte J Blanc, 1892, converted to theatre 1962-5. Substantial rectangular-plan former Free Church with base of unbuilt tower to SW corner and Renaissance details. Red sandstone, ashlar front, coursed and square rubble to rear and sides with ashlar dressings. Base course; moulded corbel course above ground floor; cill and impost course to principal windows; eaves cornice with balustraded parapet and dies with ball finials; rusticated quoins; squat Ionic columns as mullions.
W (FRONT) ELEVATION: 3-bay with base of tower to outer right and lower single bay side wing to outer left projecting outwards; tripartite entrance to centre divided by Doric columns, centre doorway round-arched and keystoned, swagged panels over outer doors, broad channelled jambs and small windows with decoratively carved aprons flanking, later canopy to doorway. Large keystoned Venetian window flanked by giant paired pilasters in centre bay above, floral carving to spandrels, pediment over breaking eaves with swagged and louvred oval window. Outer bays with angle pilasters, single windows with semi-circular pediments and panels with floral carving above. Base of tower to outer right flat-roofed with small corniced tripartite window above corbel course. Lower side wing with single window and corniced tripartite window above corbel course; pedimented return detailed as above.
N ELEVATION: 4-bay main auditorium with cill band course, segmental-arched windows with bull's-eye windows above, corniced and keystoned secondary door with banded jambs. Lower 2-storey 5-bay hall to left with single and bipartite windows.
S ELEVATION: as N elevation with segmental-arched and bull's-eye windows (blocked up) in giant banded arch; modern fire escape stair.
Small-pane timber casements with border glazing and square leaded panes. Slate roof. Moulded eaves gutter and gutterheads.
INTERIOR: main auditorium subdivided horizontally, architraved and keystoned window surrounds, dentilled cornice with broad frieze, moulded transverse beams to depressed-arch barrel vault with plaster rosettes, former organ chamber to W with compartmental ceiling and blind timber Venetian surround. Tiled vestibule with timber panelling, architraved doorways and compartmental ceiling with floreate consoles. Rear half with compartmental coombed ceiling rising from floreate corbels, central skylights.
Statement of Special Interest
This former church is a major example of the Renaissance revival style in church building of the late 19th century period. The building, which has functioned as a theatre continuously since 1965, is in a prominent location, raised above the street level at the top of Church Hill.
Hippolyte J Blanc (1844-1917) was a prolific and esteemed Edinburgh architect and antiquarian. As well as providing important designs for public and private commissions, he was responsible for numerous churches throughout Scotland.
List description updated as part of the Theatres Thematic Study 2010.