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Historic Theaters in Florida

Historic Theaters in Florida

Historic Theaters in Florida

Florida is known for its tropical climate, sandy beaches, and amusement parks. However, some people may not know that Florida is home to many historic theaters as well. So if you’re heading down to Florida and you want a different itinerary than the usual tourist spots, then you should check out these magnificent theaters teeming with history.

Some people may be surprised to learn that Florida has a lot of historical places to offer. In this post, we’ll be narrowing down these historical places into theaters that will leave you in awe. Keep reading as we take you on a trip down memory lane with these amazing historic theaters.

  • Florida Theater

The Florida Theater is Jacksonville’s oldest theater. This theater was built and opened in 1927, and it was considered the largest theater in Florida at that time. It’s been known to hold live performances, and one of the most notable performances was that of Elvis Presley in 1956.

  • The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse

The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse was built in 1924 in Cocoa, Florida. It was known as “The Aladdin Theater” when it was built and was meant for live plays and silent films. In 1991, it officially became The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse. Today, people can watch concerts, plays, and musicals in this theater.

  • Saenger Theatre

Another historic theater is the Saenger Theatre, located in Pensacola. It was built in 1925 in the area where an opera house once stood but was destroyed by a hurricane several years before. The builders used the actual bricks from the opera house to preserve the opera house’s history. The theatre boasts of a beautiful Spanish baroque architecture style. Today, people mainly watch Broadway Shows and performances by the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra in this theatre.  

  • Tampa Theatre

The Tampa Theatre was built in 1926 in Tampa, Florida. This theatre is known for its Mediterranean courtyard interior. It’s known for its Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ that was meant to accompany silent films. But today, the organ is used before feature presentations. The Tampa Theatre functions mainly as a movie theatre today, although, unlike modern cinemas, only one movie can be shown in the theatre.

  • Olympia Theatre

The Olympia Theatre in Miami  was built in 1926 to play silent movies for its patrons. The interior of the theatre brings you to a different place and time with its Moorish architecture and a simulated night sky painted on the ceiling. Theatres of this quality are known as atmospheric theaters, and it’s one out of three of its kind in Florida.

  • Polk Theatre

In Lakeland, Florida, you’ll find the Polk Theatre. It was built in 1928 as an atmospheric theater. Its beautiful interiors remind you of a Mediterranean village and its balconies and decorative windows. Lakeland in the 1920s wasn’t too populated, so the theater was indeed part of the community. Today, Polk Theatre shows films and live performances.

  • Monticello Opera House

The Monticello Opera House was built in 1890 by entrepreneur John H. Perkins. The theater is on the top floor of a building called Perkins block. The interiors of the theater allow its patrons to go back in time with its grand staircase and restored antique doors. The acoustics of the place are also noteworthy since the walls don’t have any straight lines.

  • Sarasota Opera House

The Sarasota Opera House was built in 1926 and was originally built to be a movie theater. Its facade was designed in a beautiful Mediterranean Revival architectural style. It also had a Robert Morton orchestral pipe organ. It was later renamed “The Florida Theater.” Then, in 1928 the Robert Morton orchestral pipe organ was destroyed by a hurricane. The theatre closed in 1973. It was renovated in 1982, and it opened in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House.

  • The Dixie Theater

You can find The Dixie Theater in Apalachicola. The theater opened in 1913 and mainly hosted theater troupes. In 1915, it was made into a cinema until it was closed in 1967. It was renovated in 1994, and it opened to the public in 1998. Patrons can watch various performances like comedies and musicals. It also hosts the popular series “The Dixie Does Nashville.” 

  •  Sunrise Theater

The Sunrise Theater opened in 1922 in Fort Pierce. During its heyday, it was the cultural center of the city. After being closed for many years, it was finally reopened in 1999 to be an all-purpose performing arts facility. Today, patrons of the theater can watch plays, comedies, musicals, and concerts in the venue.

  •  Athens Theatre

The Athens Theatre was built in 1921 in Deland, Florida. It was designed in Italian Renaissance architecture by famed Orlando architect Murray S. King. It was opened in 1922 and was dubbed as “Florida’s Handsomest Theatre.” It evolved from a vaudeville theater to a movie house, community theatre, dinner theatre, and many more until it closed in the 1990s. In 1993, it was restored, and today, it hosts live theatrical productions and even as a rental facility for organizations.

  •  Arcade Theatre

The Arcade Theatre was built in 1915 by brothers Harvie and Gilmer Heitman. It was initially built to be a vaudeville house. However, in 1917, it was redesigned to be a movie theatre. In 1938, it was rebuilt and reopened. Unfortunately, by 1989 the theatre was in utter disrepair and was closed. In 1991, thanks to Mikhail Baryshnikov, a ballet and movie star, enough funds were raised to restore the theatre. Today, the theatre hosts the Florida Repertory Theatre.

Closing Thoughts

There are plenty of reasons why Florida is a tourist destination. While the Sunshine State is known for its pleasant weather, numerous amusement parks, and white, sandy beaches, Florida can also be a haven for history buffs and theatre enthusiasts.

Discover more of what Florida can offer so you can make your trip more personalized and memorable. Check out You Discover Florida website, you can look for popular locations that will suit your taste and personality. Whether you’re a tourist or a new resident, our website can help you with all you need to know about Florida. Visit our website at youdiscoverflorida.com now!

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