Florida Theatre

5th Street S. and 1st Avenue S.,
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

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Demolition of Florida Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL

Internet references state this was the first air conditioned theatre in St. Petersburg. It was certainly the largest movie theatre in the town and was designed by architects; Roy A. Benjamin & Robert E. Hall. The Florida Theatre was opened September 10, 1926 with Thomas Meighan in “Tin Gods”. The 3 manual Wurlitzer organ was opened by organist William J. Gilroy.

The Florida Theatre was still open in 1956, but had closed by 1957. It was demolished in December 1967 to build a parking lot and a bank.

Contributed by John Evans

Recent comments (view all 16 comments)

rivest266 on September 10, 2008 at 1:00 am

Grand opening ad at View link
there are about 10 pages

theatreorganmana on October 30, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Research shows that the following organists have been known to have played the Florida Theatre Wurlitzer: Zita O'Brien (orignally from Chicago and featured at the Picadilly Theatre; in St. Pete, she organized the “St. Patrick’s Morning Musical” in the early fifties at the Florida—featuring area musicians including her console work);
John H. Miller (c. 1951, who featured daily programs at the Florida and also served as registrar for the A.G.O.); Don Berger (c. mid-forties, who was also organist at WTSP Radio. Mr. Berger made news when he was discovered in a car in which he had rigged a hose to end his life with carbon monoxide poisioning in October of 1945; a “Mrs. Crowther” was featured in advertising on June 20, 1927; George Henninger was also featured in the early years of the Florida.

theatreorganmana on October 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm

William J. Gilroy was featured organist at the theatre’s grand opening.

CSWalczak on October 10, 2010 at 7:20 am

This page includes the photo above and some others, including some of Elvis’s appearance there: http://www.scottymoore.net/StPete.html

jslemkew on October 26, 2016 at 8:59 pm

I remember taking the bus to Williams Park downtown with friends to go to the Saturday Matinee. 25 cents and 6 RC Cola bottle caps.

P. K. "Budd" Ballard
P. K. "Budd" Ballard on November 21, 2016 at 10:15 pm

The FLORIDA THEATRE was an “atmospheric” theatre. When you sat in the theatre it was as if you were in a Spanish court yard surrounded by buildings with the sky above you. There were BRONKERT “effects” projectors that projected moving clouds on the ceiling. There were also two balconys with concession stands on both the main floor and the first balcony. I own one of the exit signs from one of the rest rooms and it is a “Tiffany” style fixture with leaded glass. I also have photos of the projectors and the 35mm sound reader seperate machine.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on November 21, 2016 at 10:22 pm

When I checked out the Cameo booth, they had Super Simplex projectors, but in the room off to the side were two Brenkert projector heads from the Florida Theatre, which they were going to install in the Cameo. But when I was there, they got two weeks notice on the Cameo, so it never happened.

P. K. "Budd" Ballard
P. K. "Budd" Ballard on December 1, 2016 at 3:34 am

Mr. Bradley … …Were you a member of Local 552 ? I was a member for many years and was the BA for nine years. Do you live in the Tampa Bay area now ?

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on December 1, 2016 at 7:06 am

No, I was a member of Richmond, VA, Local 370. I was going to relocate in St. Pete in 1969 and join 552. Cecil Fernandez, the business agent who worked at Plaza 1, sent me to the Cameo and State to familiarize myself with the booths, but both theatres got their closing notices, so I returned to Richmond.

rivest266 on October 7, 2017 at 10:39 pm

My 2008 links are now dead. Opening article:

Found on Newspapers.com

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