The plain face-brick façade of the 1941 built Comino’s Arcade gives little clue to the richness of its history and interior. In fact the façade itself is out of the ordinary for it wasn’t until the ’50’s or even the ’60’s that such streamlined functionalist architecture was popular.
Unlike most commercial ventures in Redcliffe that until then were built with tourism in mind, Arthur Comino built the arcade - with mandatory Greek café at street level and double-height ballroom at the top – as a rest and recreation spot for the American and Australian troops who’d piled into the area. It was a canny move as many cafes and restaurants were forced to close during the war but not only had Arthur capitalized on the military presence he’d also chosen a site next door to the old Pier Theatre (which today is a store with a dress circle) to capture hungry movie patrons.
The ground floor arcade housed four shops at the time and on the first floor was accommodation and the second had bedrooms clustered around the terrazzo floored ballroom. It is a tribute to Arthur’s building prowess that not just those but all the terrazzo and mosaic tiles throughout the building are all still intact. A rear extension was added to the arcade in 1968 and these days the upstairs bedrooms have been converted to offices, but a wander upstairs is to enter a frosted glass and wood panelled time warp.
Past incarnations of the ballroom (now an art gallery) have been the 1946 ‘Ace of Clubs’ and the grander sounding ‘Panorama Dance Palais’ in 1949.
In a tragic twist, in 1949 Arthur met his accidental death in his arcade while doing some maintenance.