Playhouse Theater

1852 Central Avenue,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712

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Playhouse Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

This was an older movie theater, opened in 1928 as the Patio Theatre, and located just west of downtown St. Petersburg on Central Avenue at 19th Street. It was renamed Playhouse Theatre around 1934. It was closed in 1973 and was a sports bar in the 1990’s. It is currently vacant.

Contributed by Andy

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

HDEngineer on June 21, 2015 at 8:56 am

The Playhouse was owned and operated by the Boardman family. They also operated the Royal theater in St. Petersburg. The Royal was the “colored” theater in town, an old un air-conditioned Quonset hut. The Playhouse was in financial trouble in the early ‘60s, unable to compete for first run films with the chain theaters. The Boardmans hung on, hoping that the freeway would be built through their property. In 1963, Boardman had managed to secure the exhibition rights for a little known film “Lilies of the Field”. He was running the film at the Royal when Sidney Poitier won the Academy Award. He quickly moved the film to the Playhouse where it ran SRO for four weeks, saving the theater financially and breathing new momentum into it for a few more years. If someone has an active plan to save this old theater, feel free to contact me.

HDEngineer on June 21, 2015 at 9:05 am

The Patio/Playhouse was originally a vaudeville house; with stage, footlights and spotlight, flyloft, orchestra pit, and dressing rooms. When the roof was put on, the building was air-conditioned; probably one of the first buildings in St. Pete to be so equipped. In the early days, the theater ran nitrate film. Its a wonder it never burned down. Bill Moore

P. K. "Budd" Ballard
P. K. "Budd" Ballard on December 1, 2016 at 7:45 pm

One night when I was the projectionist at the PLAYHOUSE, the intercom buzzer went off. When I answered, it was a very excited Mr. Boardman. He said, “Turn off the sign immediately.” After turning off the sign, I called Mr. Boardman back and asked him why he was so excited. He said, “ Driving down Central Avenue to the theatre, he noticed a malfunction with the sign. One side said PAYHOUSE and thew other side said LAYHOUSE. The sign was repaired the next day. The booth had SUPER SIMPLEX projectors and BRENKERT "ENARC” lamps with a small motor-generator in the booth for power. A nice feature of the PLAYHOUSE was a large snack bar to the right of the box office. The front opened up to face Central Avenue and food was served to patrons who were not in the theatre. An added bonus was that this was also the location of a city buss stop.

Robert L. Bradley
Robert L. Bradley on December 2, 2016 at 12:02 am

When I went to the Playhouse in the early sixties, the curtain was not motorized. When it opened, it looked like someone was pulling the rope with one hand, it was so jerky. I also noticed they did not mask their flat picture, but had the screen opened all the way. I worked in some theatres where the curtain was used for side masking, but I didn’t see this at the Playhouse.

HDEngineer on December 2, 2016 at 11:46 am

Playhouse trivia….The curtain was indeed opened and closed by hand, when someone bothered. There were tape marks on the rope to show the proper masking positions, again if someone bothered to follow them…….

Is the building still for sale ?? Does anyone know how much and who the seller is ??

P. K. "Budd" Ballard
P. K. "Budd" Ballard on December 5, 2016 at 6:39 pm

After the PLAYHOUSE closed as a motion picture house, it was briefly the GOLDEN APPLE DINNER THEATRE.

Trolleyguy on December 6, 2016 at 11:20 am

HDEngineer. Why don’t you try the phone# on the side of the building that appears in Street View? 813-205-2028. The picture was taken in March 2015.

HDEngineer on January 13, 2017 at 1:37 pm

I tried the number above but the person answering did not know anything….any other lead on the building ??


HistoricGal on January 20, 2017 at 12:51 pm

HDEngineer. My husband & I have been trying for the last 2yrs to get info on this building to restore it etc. We have went round & round as it keeps changing commercial real estate companies for the sale. Now the $ of the building has went up 50% since it switched to the new listee. How can I get ahold of you to discuss?

HDEngineer on January 20, 2017 at 12:55 pm

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