Concept

Tampa Theatre

Summary
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. Tampa Theatre was the first commercial building in Tampa to offer air conditioning. 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. 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. 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.
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