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Thanks Andy. Here’s the opening day ad dated Nov. 24, 1935.
Click on image then “view all sizes” to enlarge:
Just found some additional photos:
May 1919 before Broadway Theatre opened:
Nice angled shot of front dated Nov. 1936:
Beautiful close-up view of front dated Nov. 1936:
Undated photo showing Broadway Theatre blade sign and marquee:
Photo of auditorium dated November 1936:
Current photos of auditorium as it appears today on this website:
Andy/Major: Tampa is blessed not only with the Burgert Brothers photos but the Roberson & Fresh collection as well. Many cities had no historical photographers at all. Not being picky here and I’m very thankful for the theatres they did photograph but only wished they had taken more interior shots.
A projectionist who was working the booth in 1959 recalls the day when he ran a newsreel showing where Castro had overthrown Batista and gained control of Cuba. The entire audience which was composed mainly of Cubans and Spanish patrons was so estactic that Cuba finally had a new leader that they began stomping their feet on the wooden floor so hard it caused a tremendous amount of dust to rise through the air all the way up to the ceiling. The dust was so thick you could barely see the onscreen image for several minutes.
Building under construction dated June 1941.
Blade Signage Installed:
Auditorium taking shape:
Thanks smyjmy. At least the theatre stands a better chance of surviving than they would without these amenities.
I’ve never seen this one before…very nice! Thanks Chuck.
Ah yes! The changeover warning bell…something you’ll never hear in today’s multiplexes. The Ritz had a bell on each projector that was loud and clear. Whenever I heard the “ding!” I’d get set to look for the cue marks and anxiously watch the changeover. I also loved hearing the flap flap flap of the film as the reels ended their rewind. Now everyone on CT will know I’m nuttier than a fruitcake.
Before and after photos of the auditorium during renovations on this webpage: View link
It was The Ritz you saw although we passed by the Casino which is one block down. But at the time I didn’t think to point it out.
Nice photo of Royal Theatre blade sign and posters (photo not dated):
Photo of lobby and employees dated 1944:
You’re right. I wonder how that happened? I just googled the 2306 address and it’s correct. That’s very strange since I copied the 1305 address from the city directory but evidently I either copied it wrong or the directory is incorrect. And to complicate this even further the address given for the 1914 photo below is 1906 N. Howard! Makes no sense at all.
Theatre entrance is on the left side. Several poster cases were later installed on the wall between the windows. Somewhere at home I have a book with a beautiful color photo showing the Royal Theatre blade sign and the poster cases. I’ll post it soon.
Here’s a photo dated 1914. Theatre entrance is on the right side under the awning. About 10 poster display cases were later installed on the wall in-between the windows down the side of the building.
This photo shows a ballet performance onstage in 1925:
I had never thought about it but you’re right, Bob. The Prince may have in fact began life as a Nickelodeon. And during that era I wonder how many other Nickelodeons Tampa might have had. Microfilm copies of the local paper go way back to the very first issue in the late 1800s I think. Would certainly make an interesting research project!
Photo of The New Prince dated 1920:
The New Prince dated 1921:
Grand opening ad for The Rex dated March 29, 1940:
Thanks Mike! Yes, it was built and privately owned and managed by J.C. Carscallen until around the mid-1960s when it was sold to Floyd Theatres. Not long afterwards a tornado touched down in the area one morning damaging several homes and knocking down the Skyway’s screen. Afterwards Floyd Theatres put up a new steel screen. The original screen was about 60 feet wide. Not certain if it was constructed of wood or metal or cinder block or maybe a combination of all these. I do remember the center portion was flat with slightly curved extentions added to each end. The replacement steel screen was also slightly curved.
Driving by the former Skyway lot last week I noticed the car dealership that took it’s place is now gone. The showroom and service buildings are still standing but are now boarded up and surrounded by tall grass and weeds. Looks like they’ve been abandoned for quite some time. I say they should demolish the buildings and bring back the Skyway!! The Fun-Lan is Tampa’s only surviving drive-in (and apparently doing very well) so I believe the city could surely support another drive-in.
I remember my first visit to the Skyway was in 1963. The double feature that evening was Presley’s “FUN IN ACAPULCO” and “DEAR HEART” with Glenn Ford. And some others I remember over the years were “THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE” “BUSTER & BILLIE” “WELCOME HOME SOLDIER BOYS.” I didn’t see many films here as I’d have to drive over from the opposite side of town, and there were at least 3 other drive-ins much closer.
The front design of the building and entrance looks nearly identical to Carmike’s former Hillsboro Eight in Tampa. Looks like they’ve done a nice job with the renovations. Does this theatre have stadium seating? I didn’t see it mentioned in the article but hopefully it does. If not it’ll be hard to compete with other theatres within the same area that do. Today’s audiences favor theatres with stadium seating and will drive that extra mile bypassing theatres without it.
Aaah yes! The Cameo. In 1969 I drove over from Tampa to see “I Am Curious (Yellow)” and I recall quite a number of senior citizens in the audience. This boring b&w film was pretty controversial for it’s time with some full frontal nudity…about the only reason it played for months and months in many markets.
The entrance into the Cameo’s audiorium was unique for a movie theatre. You walked up an incline right into the center of the auditorim. There were a few rows of seating from the entrance towards the front, and on either side of the entrance on up to the rear wall. Similiar to entering a stadium but without stadium seating.
When the theatre closed it was used for stage performances for some time although I can’t remember if it was still called the Cameo. Towards the late 1980s I saw a live performance of the hilarious “El Grande De Coca Cola.” It was strange seeing the auditorium without the screen. It looked somewhat smaller than I had remembered from about 20 years before.
When Florida State Theatres closed The Springs as a commercial movie house sometime between the early-to-mid 1960s they stripped the theatre of all projection equipment including speakers, seating, screen, and the box office. Even the colored neon tube lights on the marquee were dismantled. The building remained vacant for some time and later reopened as The Springs Auction House.
Two friends of mine, a former union operator and his wife, had attended an auction one day and struck up a conversation with the auctioneer. They talked about the Springs Theatre and all the happy times they had spent watching movies here. They had courted in the theatre years ago and were eventually married so The Springs held many fond memories and was very dear to them. The auctioneer told them that he would like to operate a movie theatre, and would love to be able to reopen the building as The Springs Theatre once again, although he knew nothing about the business or how to go about acquiring equipment.
My friends said they would be willing to help him get the project off the ground. All they asked in return is that he hire a union operator for the booth. He told them that he would be agreeable to hiring a union man and wouldn’t even consider opening the theatre without one.
In my friend’s own words:
“I told him we could help him secure the projection equipment, the seats, a screen, a box office, and even neon tubing for the marquee lights. I could get all this equipment for him for practically nothing. The seats, speakers, and the box office came out of the old Lincoln Theatre on Central Avenue which had been closed for some time. I was even able to get him the colored neon tubing from the Lincoln’s marquee. The screen came out of a closed theatre in New Port Richey. The building’s owner had given us the keys and permission to go inside and retrieve the screen which cost us about $50. I brought my son and the auctioneer’s brother along to help me dismantle and roll-up the screen.
Off topic here: interesting to note (and this should make poster collectors cringe with horror) there was a closet in this theatre in New Port Richey that was filled with stacks of posters that had never been returned to the exchange. There was no room to transport them back to Tampa along with the rolled-up screen so they had planned on coming back for them at a later day. They finally made it back a few weeks later but when they opened the closet it was empty. The theatre had been cleaned out and renovated for stage performances. And whatever happened to those posters is anyone’s guess. They may have been either tossed in the dumpster or possibly whoever found them suspected them may be of value and grabbed them. Needless to say they were sick for days!
Back on topic: The projectors were originally from the Seminole Theatre on Florida Avenue but had been loaned to a small church-owned drive-in theatre located on Highway 19 in St. Petersburg. I contacted the man who had leased the projectors to the drive-in and arrangements were made for us to dismantle and transport them back to Tampa and install them in the booth at the Springs.
We hung the screen within the frame and it took me about two weeks to lace and tighten it working by myself for a few hours each day. There had been a small fire inside the building at one time and the tile around the concession stand had been stained with smoke residue. Some tiles had also fallen off the wall and were missing. My wife replaced the missing tiles using several that were still in place near the bottom inside of the concession stand. She cleaned the concession area as best as possible to try and bring out the shine it once had.
All in all we worked for several months installing equipment, repairing, cleaning, and outfitting the theatre to bring it back into presentable shape again. I explained how to book films from the distributor in Jacksonville, and also how to buy candy, popcorn, and other concession items from the concessionaire. I also advised him on the type of films to book that would bring in the crowds but he was mainly interested in the old westerns since they were cheap to book. I told him not to play too many films of the same genre too often. I said, “you can’t run westerns seven days a week and expect to draw crowds every day.”
He also wasn’t interested in running trailers since he didn’t want to pay the few extra dollars to book them. I told him he really should consider booking trailers along with the features so his audience will know what’s coming the following week but he prefered doing things his way.
And then he dropped the bomb! Just before the reopening he reneged on his promise to hire a union operator. I said to him, “after all that my wife and I have done to help you get this theatre running again and all the equipment I was able to get under the one condition that you promise to put a union operator in the booth, and now you tell me you don’t want a union operator in here. Well as far as I’m concerened I don’t ever want to talk to you again nor do I ever want to see you again.” Even after telling him this he had the nerve to ask, “you mean you’re not gonna help me out anymore?” I turned and walked out and never spoke to him again."
The grand reopening was held on Saturday, January 22, 1972. A local TV station and newspaper reporter were on hand to cover the event. The owner said in an interview that The Springs Theatre will be showing family movies, serials, and cartoons and we’ll even have the 5-cent bag of popcorn just like the good ole days. Admission was free for the Saturday grand reopening. The crowds came at the beginning but it wasn’t very long before attendance slowly began dropping off.
The Springs reopened with a double feature and a chapter serial:
“RUN WILD RUN FREE”
“RIDE BEYOND VENGEANCE"
"THE LOST PLANET”
The newspaper ads didn’t run daily. Every so often a small ad was published advertising the films for that day. These are some ads I was able to locate over the 6-month period the theatre was open:
"HELL ON WHEELS"
"THE THREE STOOGES”
“TROUBLE AT MELODY PASS"
"40 GUNS TO APACHE PASS”
“BIG GUN DOWN"
"TIME FOR KILLING”
Every so often a major attraction ran as a single feature. I occasionally saw ads for film such as “AIRPORT” and “TO SIR WITH LOVE.” He was able to keep it going for about 6 months. In July of 1972 ads began appearing for The Springs Adult Theatre. Adult films ran for many years until the theatre finally closed for good. The building later housed a print shop, and later a church. Today the building is home to an audio and video production facility. Jay Leno and Jennifer Lopez rehearsed here when Tampa hosted SuperBowl XLIII in 2009.
Here’s a link with some interior photos of the audio/video facility:
The Strand had already been closed for a few years by the time my interest in theatres had begun so I never had a chance to see a movie here. When the building was still standing I’d walked pass the entrance just about every day during my lunch hour curiously wondering what the theatre interior had looked like before being absorbed into Maas Brothers.
Dick, You’re right. The upper portion of the elevated floor constructed within the former theatre auditorium (the Mezzanine) became Maas' famous Suncoast Restaruant where I had lunch at many times. In looking at the photo of the auditorium interior, the walls in the restaurant evidently were left pretty much as they were when the building housed the Strand.
Each time I had lunch here I’d scope out the rear wall of the restaurant where the projection booth stood. The men’s restroom was located at just about the spot where the booth would have been. But try as I might I couldn’t find any tell-tale sign of the former booth at all.
Today that entire block is a parking lot. It’s a shame the front facade of the theatre was not salvaged. It had that classic “movie theatre” design. The Strand was a Florida State Theatre for several years prior to closing and was considered to have been a deluxe theatre in it’s day. I would have loved to have seen a movie here!
Around 1968 a friend and I drove over from Tampa to see “South Pacific” here. It was my first time at the State, and I recall being impressed by the wide CinemaScope screen with the colored lighting behind it. It did appear to be free-floating…very unusual but effective. “South Pacific” looked great and the onscreen image was well-focused overall. I remember the seats were very comfortable and the cushions were slightly thicker and softer than standard theatre seating. In 1969 I also saw “The Gay Deceivers.” These were the only two films I saw here. Wish I had driven over more often. The State was a very nice, comfortable theatre.
Dick, It took me awhile but I finally located the opening day. It opened on June 24, 1948 as the Auto Park. You’re not alone in referring to it as the Causeway Drive-In. I’ve heard several people call it by that name since it was located off of 22nd Street Causeway! See the Auto Park page for a short story I posted.
Mike, I’ll post some info. on the Tower Drive-In shortly along with the program you had sent. Stay tuned!
The Auto Park opened on June 24, 1948 with “CARNIVAL IN COSTA RICA” as the opening attraction. Since it was located on 22nd Street Causeway many people often referred to it as the Causeway Drive-In. Located directly across 22nd Street from the drive-in was the locally famous Seabreeze Restaurant now long gone. I didn’t frequent this theatre often as it wasn’t near to where I lived.
The drive-in was owned and operated by S. E. Britton for several years and later by Tampa Bay Theatres, Inc. which was acquired by Floyd Theatres. The original screen sat near the entrance off of 22nd Street. Years later (probably in the mid-1950’s) a larger screen was installed at the opposite end of the lot and the entire drive-in was turned around to face the opposite direction. This new screen sat on a small patch of swamp land that was slightly separated from the lot. I’ve heard stories about how the projectionist would not sit on the toilet in the booth without first looking inside for water moccasins which had been known to surface in the bowl every so often. The open sewage pipe dumped right out into the bay allowing easy access for the critters to crawl in. The manager would sometimes drive to the theatre during the day with a pistol and shoot moccasins that were laying on the shore sunning themselves.
In many ads the drive-in’s tag line was “located on the shores of beautiful Tampa Bay.” In reality it was located off a small section of the bay and was surrounded by mosquito-filled swamp lands and marshes. The mosquitos were so bad especially during the summer months that every car entering received a free PIC Mosquito Coil. And believe me you needed it! Looking across the bay from the drive-in you had a nice view of industrial plants, smokestacks, and shipyards.
Although I didn’t see very many films here I remember seeing these: a Bob Hope Phyllis Diller comedy whose title escapes me, PSYCHO, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, THE GAY DECEIVERS, a midnight showing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (advertised on the marquee as NIGHT OF THE FLESH EATERS), HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (possibly the last film I saw here.)
Today the land where the Auto Park stood is empty and desolate. The box office, concessions, booth, and screen were all torn down. No trace or outline of the theatre or parking ramps are visible and nothing remains of the entrance or the road leading to the box office.
Opening day ad dated June 24, 1948:
Program from 1964:
Program from 1969:
According to the city directory, 2104 Main Street is listed as vacant from 1924 through 1957. Roma Importing is listed for this number from 1958 through 1962. In 1963 the address once again is vacant. In 1964 it no longer appears which may indicate the space may have been absorbed by another business within the building. I would say it’s doubtful a theatre ever existed at this location.