Florida Theatre

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

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Showing 16 comments

rivest266 on October 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm

My 2008 links are now dead. Opening article:

Found on Newspapers.com

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on November 30, 2016 at 11:06 pm

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.

P. K. "Budd" Ballard
P. K. "Budd" Ballard on November 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm

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 November 21, 2016 at 2:22 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 November 21, 2016 at 2:15 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.

jslemkew on October 26, 2016 at 12:59 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.

CSWalczak on October 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm

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

theatreorganmana on October 30, 2008 at 6:58 am

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

theatreorganmana on October 30, 2008 at 6:38 am

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.

rivest266 on September 9, 2008 at 5:00 pm

Grand opening ad at View link
there are about 10 pages

theatreorganmana on April 23, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Elvis Presley appeared here on August 7, 1956, PRIOR to his engagement at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville Aug. 10-11!

spectrum on September 9, 2007 at 5:20 pm

According to the Motion Picture Yearbook for 1936, this seated 2,400.

theatreorganmana on November 11, 2005 at 2:26 am

According to research by Mssrs. Kinerk and Wilhelm, noted theatre historians, the architect for the Florida was not Taylor, but Roy A. Benjamin with Robert E. Hall. Located in the Famous Players Theatre Building, the Florida was one of 4 Publix super luxury theatres built in Florida in 1926 (the Olympia, Miami; the Florida, Jacksonville; and the Tampa). The theatre was located at 22 5th Street South at 1st Avenue South, on the Northwest corner. The interior of the theatre was decidedly 15th Century Spanish. After closing in 1967, the theatre property was purchased by the First National Bank and the theatre fell to the wrecker’s ball.

The first feature film at the Florida was “Tin Man” and the St. Petersburg Orange Band played as did the Florida’s Mighty Wurlitzer.
Senator William Hodges dedicated the theatre and Mayor R.S. Peace accepted.

Live acts at the Florida over the years included George Jessel, Sally Rand, and Elvis Presley. Clint Eastwwood’s “For A Few Dollars More” was the final film at the Florida and, according to journalist Dick Bothwell, “a tombstone flashed upon the screen” announcing “RIP Florida, 1926-1967”.

(information for this commentary came from an article by Scott Taylor Hartzell of the Saint Petersburg Times (June 19, 2002), and from the research holdings of Michael Kinerk and David Wilhelm, Miami Beach, FL.)

theatreorganmana on October 27, 2005 at 5:57 pm

Does anyone have photos of this theatre?

theatreorganmana on October 27, 2005 at 5:55 pm

The Florida had a Wurlitzer, a three-manual 235 Special, Opus 1384, shipped from the North Tonawanda, NY factory on July 8, 1926. Stanley Malotte was one of the more famous organists who presided at the console.

rocsal on September 3, 2005 at 7:26 pm

It was larger and more beautiful than the Tampa theater. At the time, all any one thought about was how great the new Bayfront center was. No one was interested in saving old theaters.