Polk Theatre

121 S. Florida Avenue,
Lakeland, FL 33801

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Polk Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Built in 1927 to the plans of architect James E. Casale, the Polk Theatre has a mezzanine, a high balcony, a permanent backdrop of a "Venetian piazza," an orchestral pit, high twinkling stars, a cloud-covered ceiling, and an exquisite terrazo floor. The air-conditioning system (the first in the county in the 1920’s) was a pump that used artesian well water to chill the building.

The Polk Theatre opened on December 22, 1928 with Pauline Frederick in “On Trial”. By 1941 it was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary E.J. Sparks

Today, the 1,400-seat theatre is used for live performances as well as movies.

Contributed by Cathy Cook

Recent comments (view all 38 comments)

spectrum
spectrum on October 12, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Complete restoration was completed in 1999.

Patsy
Patsy on October 12, 2009 at 6:17 pm

spectrum: Music to my ears when reading “complete restoration was completed”. Congratulations!!!

Patsy
Patsy on October 12, 2009 at 6:19 pm

The new marquees etc. are just fantastic compared to how this theatre’s exterior looked in 1988. Complete transformation!

Patsy
Patsy on October 12, 2009 at 6:21 pm

In fact, the entire building was transformed with the lovely addition of awnings, etc. I wish more downtowns made use of storefront awnings rather than see them turned into a rusty place for bird’s nests.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 28, 2010 at 11:24 am

Nice write-up with pictures:

View link

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on July 24, 2010 at 7:39 am

Here is the theater in July 2010.

Patsy
Patsy on July 24, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’ve visited this theatre and it is a must-see when in Lakeland FL.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm

The Polk Theatre is doing a documentary about the Elvis performance in 1956. They are searching for people who attended the concert.

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-polk/lakeland/historic-polk-theatre-looking-for-people-who-attended-elvis-presleys-1956-performance-in-lakeland

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on April 23, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Just added photo dated April 30th 1927. J.E. Casale, Architect, Tampa G.A. Miller, Builder, Tampa Photo courtesy of The Polk Theatre Facebook page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 14, 2017 at 5:51 pm

It looks like the Polk Theatre had to be partly rebuilt twice before its opening in December, 1928, which may account in part for the original builder, John Melton, running out of funds. An article in the October 6, 1928, issue of Exhibitors Herald reported on the damage done to the region’s theaters by a recent hurricane. Several movie houses were severely damaged or completely destroyed, but the line about the Polk says “…the Polk at Lakeland lost its roof — for the second time.”

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