Tampa Theatre

Coordinates: 27°57′0″N 82°27′32″W / 27.95000°N 82.45889°W / 27.95000; -82.45889
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

27°57′0″N 82°27′32″W / 27.95000°N 82.45889°W / 27.95000; -82.45889

Tampa Theatre
Exterior of venue (c.2006)
Full nameTampa Theatre Building
Address711 N Franklin St
Tampa, FL 33602-4435
LocationDowntown Tampa
OwnerCity of Tampa
OperatorThe Arts Council of Hillsborough County
Broke groundApril 12, 1925 (1925-04-12)
OpenedOctober 15, 1926 (1926-10-15)
Renovated1976-77; 1992; 2009; 2011-12; 2017
Construction cost$1.2 million
($20.8 million in 2023 dollars[1])
ArchitectJohn Eberson
tampatheatre.org Edit this at Wikidata
Tampa Theatre
Architectural styleMediterranean Revival
NRHP reference No.78000945[2]
Added to NRHPJanuary 3, 1978

The Tampa Theatre is a historic U.S. theater and city landmark in Downtown Tampa, Florida. Designed as an atmospheric theatre-style movie palace by architect John Eberson, it opened on October 15, 1926. The theatre features a wide range of independent, foreign, and documentary films. It is Tampa's only non-profit movie palace, and operating costs are supported by its members, donors, and corporate sponsors, as well as by ticket and concessions sales. It has often been used as a backdrop for movies, music videos, and local programming.[citation needed]


Tampa Theatre box office, 2012

Tampa Theatre was the first commercial building in Tampa to offer air conditioning.[3] The theatre's interior resembles a romantic Mediterranean courtyard replete with old-world statuary, flowers, and gargoyles. On the ceiling is an artificial nighttime sky with stars on it.

By the 1960s and 70s, many American movie palaces were demolished because the land beneath them became more valuable than the theatre operation.[4]

In 1973, the theatre faced the same fate. But the citizens rallied and committees were formed. City leaders became involved, and soon a deal was reached to have the City rescue the Tampa Theatre by assuming its leases. The Arts Council of Hillsborough County agreed to program and manage the Tampa Theatre with films, concerts, and special events. By the time the Theatre reopened in early 1978, the Tampa Theatre had become something of a national model on how to save an endangered theater.

Tampa Theatre logo etched on one of its windows

In 1992, restoration efforts were led by the Tampa Theatre Foundation after the building caught fire in 1991. The theatre presents and hosts over 600 events a year including a full schedule of the first run and classic films, concerts, special events, corporate events, tours, and educational programs.

Since its rescue in 1978, the theatre has welcomed over five million guests including over one million school children for school field trips and summer camps in the context of one of Tampa's largest historic preservation projects.

It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, is a Tampa City Landmark, and is a member of the League of Historic American Theatres.

The theatre has undergone many restoration projects as well as equipment upgrades. The most recent restoration project was the replacement of the marquee which includes the vertical blade sign and the canopy. The completion was marked by the Marquee Lighting Ceremony which took place on January 16, 2004.[citation needed]

The theatre operates The Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ and the instrument is played before nightly films. The organ is played and maintained by a team of volunteer organists from the Central Florida Theatre Organ Society.[5]

In the spring of 2013, during its 86th year of existence, efforts began to convert to digital picture and sound (with the exception of productions that are only available in the movie reel format) and screened a free showing of Samsara to celebrate the transition. The switch to digital occurred at a cost of $150,000.[6]

In late 2017, the Theatre closed for six weeks to complete the first phase of its long-term restoration plan, a $6 million renovation that updated the electrical systems, re-seated the auditorium with seats designed to match the original look from 1926, added a new and expanded concessions stand and bar, installed a new emergency power system, and protected the building from storms by installing new storm rated windows and doors on the Florida Avenue side of the building. The seating capacity was reduced from 1,446 to 1,238 to improve comfort and legroom. A new carpet, designed to match the original 1926 design, was installed, as well as a new grand drape and valance for the proscenium arch also designed to match the original.

The lobby paint and plaster were restored to their original palette by crews from EverGreene Studios, in New York, including the replication of four tapestries to replace the faded and worn tapestries from 1926. The original tapestries were transferred to the Tampa Bay History Center for preservation.

In popular culture[edit]

The glam metal band Sleeze Beez filmed the music video for the song "Stranger Than Paradise" at the theater.[7][8]

Noted performers[edit]



  1. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ "Step Inside The Tampa Theatre". WUSF Public Media. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  4. ^ "Preserving Tampa's History – Tampa Theater – Eclipse Building Corp". Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  5. ^ Todd Beck (15 August 2009). "Tampa Theatre Mighty Wurlitzer organ" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  6. ^ Dalia Colon (1 May 2013). "After 87 Years, Tampa Theatre Goes Digital". WUSF News. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  7. ^ applesandgrits (19 May 2009). "The Tampa Theatre" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  8. ^ donvanspall (30 December 2007). "Sleeze Beez - Stranger Than Paradise" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Tampa Theatre, Tampa, FL, USA Concert Setlists | setlist.fm". setlist.fm.
  10. ^ Leilani Polk. "David Byrne at Tampa Theatre Review".
  11. ^ MaxSenn (12 March 2008). "Ani DiFranco - The Atom (03.11.2008) Tampa" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  12. ^ Shelley Renee Perfect (9 March 2009). "Arlo Guthrie Tampa Theatre March 2009" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  13. ^ alpine1985 (12 February 2009). "Old Crow Medicine Show with The Felice Brothers" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 3 May 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ "REH on the Road presents Andrew Dice Clay". TBNweekly.

External links[edit]