In 1891, stonemason Leslie Arthur built the Old Methodist church at the corners of Donegal and Erris Street in Cromwell. At that time, the town was a crossroads community, brought together by the recent Gold Rush and a sense of new beginnings. The church offered a social atmosphere and a place of calm – a symbolic home – to the peoples of the area. In his way, Leslie Arthur contributed to community spirit.
This spirit of community was strong in his family and his great-granddaughter, Helen Clark, continues in her own way to work for the people. Her time as NZ Prime Minister and now at the UN showcases her lifelong desire to bring communities and people together.
The building served as a Methodist Church until 1960. The Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust took over the lease in 2003 and has since undertaken extensive restoration to the building. The Cromwell Film Society secured a long-term lease from the church and the OGHT mid 2015.
That is the short history of Arthur’s Cinema – a name chosen to not only respect the history of Cromwell but also to underline the feeling of true community spirit.