Plaza Theatre

3611 Phillips Highway,
Jacksonville, FL 32207

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Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

glenjay
glenjay on September 2, 2006 at 10:09 am

The Plaza Theater was located in Phillips Highway Plaza, a non-descript early enclosed mall. That stretch of Phillips Highway (US 1 in South Jacksonville) had been something of a wasteland at least since I-95 opened, even though I-95 was only a few blocks north. I assume the Plaza was an attempt to promote development in that area, but it wasn’t successful; that area is still dumpy.
The theater was an early example of a non-downtown first-run theater. It opened in the late-50s or early 60s. There was nothing ‘neighborhood’ about it; if you went there, you drove.
The Plaza Theater’s box office and entrance were inside the mall, something unusual at that time. The theater itself was large for a new theater of the time, and thoroughly undistinguished in design and architecture.
For a while, at least, the Plaza got some first-run movies. I recall seeing the Burton-Taylor-Zeffirelli ‘Taming of the Shrew’ there in 1967. The last movie I recall seeing there was “Earthquake” in 1974: the huge bass speakers that created the special rumbling effect were set at the back of the steeply raked aisles, and you had to walk around them to get to the lobby.
This one won’t have many mourners.

Treadwell
Treadwell on August 16, 2012 at 1:07 am

Saw Star Wars there in 1977. At that time there was no entry via the mall interior, entrance was outside. For many years there was an old locomotive on display nearby at the mall entrance, with easy access for curious/playful kiddies like me.

By the early 90s it was a Radio Shack, then years later a rock climbing place, the rock wall where the screen used to be. YMCA bought it and kept the rock wall. Around 2010 YMCA closed, and last I checked it was a climbing place again.

Roughly around 2000 the mall was converted to an open-air arrangement and switched from retail to business office space.

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