A huge campaign to save the theatre was established and in 1993, following many years of failed deals and opposition, the St James was purchased by the Wellington City Council. An $18.5 million restoration plan was set out in 1995 and with Council, Wellington Community Trust, Lottery Board, and public contributions, the restoration commenced.
The Royal New Zealand Ballet hosted a variety of dazzling performances, with the St James hosting their 50th anniversary performance of Romeo and Juliet in 2003.
The paranormal activity of the St James was investigated in 2005 on the New Zealand television show Ghost Hunt. St James is infamous for an array of ghosts haunting the venue – the most well-known is Yuri, the ghost of a Russian performer who fell to his death from the theatre flies. Yuri is reportedly a friendly ghost, who likes to turn the lights on and off, and has been credited with saving the life of a stage projectionist…twice!
Others said to haunt the auditorium include a ‘wailing woman’, Stan Andrews, and a boys’ choir.