Prince Theatre

231 E. Main Street,
Pahokee, FL 33476

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Prince Theatre

The first Prince Theatre opened in May of 1931 with 250 seats. In 1940 it was rebuilt to the plans of architect Chester A. Cone, reopening in January 1941. The Prince Theatre was closed in the mid-1960’s and was taken over by the city in 1976. Following repairs it was reopened in 1980 and operated a few more years. The vacant building was damaged by a storm in 2008. The building remains vacant today.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

amg2000
amg2000 on January 19, 2015 at 5:51 am

Even though the facade has been stripped, you can tell this must have been a beautiful Art Deco theatre in it’s day. Wonder what’s left of the interior?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 4, 2015 at 4:40 am

The original Prince Theatre was replaced in 1940. The April 5, 1940, issue of The Film Daily had this item:

“Dobrow to Erect New Theater Building, Refurnish Another

“Pahokee, Fla. — A call for bids is being made by Abe Dobrow of the Everglades and Prince Theaters, for a new structure to replace the present building housing the Prince theater. Bids will be opened April 8. Plans also call for complete refurnishing of the Everglades theater.”

This follow-up item is from the January 3, 1941, issue of The Film Daily:
“Open New Pahokee House

“Pahokee, Fla. — New $40,000 Prince theater, has been opened. The 600-seater is owned and operated by Gold & Dobrow. Don Hiller & Sons, Pahokee, were the contractors.”

Listings of the Prince Theatre in FDY’s from the 1930s consistently give it a capacity of 250, so it was less than half the size of the new house. It seems unlikely that the original Prince Theatre would have been demolished in 1940 if its building was only nine years old, so it’s likely that it was either an older theater that had operated under a different name earlier in its history, or it was in an older commercial building that had been converted into a theater in 1931.

Architect Chester A. Cone was still in practice at least as late as 1985, so it seems likely that it was the 1940 rebuilding of the Prince Theatre that he designed, rather than the original house.

In 1966, the Gold-Dobrow chain leased three of their five theaters, including the Prince, to a Miami-based chain. An article about the transfer in the December 21 issue of The Palm Beach Post said that the Gold-Dobrow chain had been “…organized about 35 years ago….” That would be consistent with the 1931 opening of the original Prince Theatre, whether it was a new operation or an old house renamed by the new owners.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 11, 2019 at 3:21 pm

What I’ve been able to piece together from various sources is that the Prince Theatre closed in the mid-1960s, was donated by its owners to the City of Pahhokee in 1976, was repaired and reopened by a citizen-led group for live events and movies in 1980, but closed again a few years later. The vacant building’s roof was badly damaged by Tropical Storm Fay in 2008, and the city decided it was beyond repair.

A deal was made by the city to sell the land to the owner of an adjacent filling station in 2010, with the condition that the filling station owner have the theatre demolished. Instead, he began repairs on the building, and the city sued him. I’ve been unable to find details about what happened next, but the building was not demolished and there were reports about attempts to renovate and reopen it in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

The Prince Theatre is currently listed in the portfolio of Jones-Phillips Associates, LLC, which describes itself as “… a full-service consulting firm specializing in performance facility planning and architectural lighting design.” Their web site provides no details about the Prince Theatre project, but the fact that it is listed indicates that such a project is, at the very least, in the planning stage.

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