Crossroads 2 Theatre

2070 Tyrone Boulevard North,
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

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Crossroads Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL

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Wometco’s single screen Crossroads Theatre was constructed in the Crossroads Shopping Center on Tyrone Boulevard at 66th Street North. It was one of three new theatres built and opened in St. Petersburg in 1965. The Tyrone Theatre was the first to open in July followed by both the Crossroads Theatre and the Loew’s Theatre in December of that year. Both the Crossroads and the Loew’s opened just two days apart from each other. These three suburban movie houses became St. Petersburg’s first new theatres in 38 years.

The Crossroads Theatre was constructed at a cost of $700,000 by Dewitt, Furnell, and Spicer to the plans of Miami architect A. Herbert Mathes. It became Wometco’s 39th theatre in Florida. Color selection and interior decoration was personally selected and supervised by Harvey Fleischman, the vice-president of Wometco Enterprises. The theatre was managed by Howard Forbes and assistant Fred Haretz. The grand opening was held on December 22, 1965 with “The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide Word” as the inaugural attraction.

The auditorium featured 1,200 deep-floating cushioned seats in the orchestra and rocking chair seats in the smoking loge. The building exterior was painted in Wometco’s new deluxe “custom colored” pink. A landscaped garden flanked each side of the theatre’s chrome and glass front entrance. The building also featured a future provision for adding a smaller twin auditorium with seating for 600 to 800 patrons which had been planned for 1966 although the theatre was not twinned until 1975.

The spacious lot featured five acres of parking. And according to management many patrons enjoyed having tailgate parties before the show. Arriving early they would park in groups in the lighted areas and enjoy snacks before the show. The new theatre also featured a token and turnstile admission system which provided an accurate up-to-the-moment count of patrons.

The Terrazzo floored lobby was decorated in an effective color scheme of gold and blue. The refreshment stand was constructed of bright red Formica and glass. Serving as a self-service candy counter it also doubled as the box office. Wometco Vending Company supplied the refreshment stand which featured a Manley popcorn machine and a Jet Spray drink dispenser. The lobby also had a bank of vending machines that provided patrons with hot and cold drinks, soups, cigarettes, and additional candies.

A crossover area between the lobby and auditorium entrances was separated by red curtains. This area featured a lounge and a rotating art gallery illuminated with wash lighting. Theatre management referred to this area as “our plush pretty area.” Deep blue plush carpeting extended from the floor up the wall and to the ceiling in this section. Pictures on display in the art gallery were furnished under contract with a local art gallery. Patrons could purchase pictures if desired by contacting theatre management who acts as an intermediary by placing interested patrons directly in touch with the sellers.

The plush blue carpeting extended from the crossover area down each auditorium aisle. American Seating supplied the 1,200 coral and blue seats which were staggered 42 inches back-to-back in an alternating color pattern. The seats maintained a glow under low light making it easier for personal and patrons to find seating.

The 51' x 23' curved Technikote screen was covered by coral and blue curtains in alternating color patterns. The booth was equipped with Century projectors and sound, Ashcraft lamps and rectifiers, Kollmorgen lenses, and Goldberg rewinds. An article describing the projection equipment stated that in addition to 35mm, the booth had the capability to project all film processes including 70mm, CinemaScope, Cinerama, and the new Dimension 150 films.

The Crossroad Theatre opened as a deluxe first-run house featuring many big attractions over the years. Two reserved seat roadshow films had their exclusive area showings here. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” opened on July 21, 1967 and ran for 18 weeks. “Hello Dolly” opened on December 17, 1969 and ran for 27 weeks.

April 27, 1975 was the Crossroads final day of operation as a single screen theatre. “Escape to Witch Mountain” was the last feature to play on the Crossroad’s big screen. The theatre was closed for twinning on April 28th and reopened just four days later with one twin in full operation with its first feature, “Cabaret". The second twin opened two months later on June 27, 1975 when the grand opening ceremony took place. The Crossroads Twins officially opened with “The Day of the Locust” and “Bite the Bullet". The new twins were listed in the daily ads as Crossroads Twin One and Twin Two.

The twinning may have been done in two stages in order to open one twin quickly keeping loss of revenue at a minimum. Although provisions were in place for twinning when the theatre opened in 1968, I could find no information describing how this was done. The auditorium may have either been sliced in half or a new auditorium may have been built adjacent to the existing building. Any locals who may have been familiar with the original Crossroads Theatre will hopefully be able to clarify this.

On November 30, 1979 Cobb Theatres assumed ownership for a very short time. Seven days later the daily advertisements begin appearing under the AMC banner as the Crossroads 2 Theatre. The opening attractions under AMC were “10” and “And Justice for All". By late-1987 the twins had become a discount dollar theatre with free all-you-can-eat popcorn on Saturdays.

On November 6, 1987 AMC opened a new 8-screen theatre called the Crossroads 8 in the same shopping center near the Crossroads Twin. A special advanced preview of the new theatre was held two weeks prior to the grand opening with all seats priced at $1.00. Both theatres remained in operation until the twin’s closing on January 14th, 1988. “Hello Again” and “Flowers in the Attic” were the last features.

A notice appearing with that day’s advertisement states the theatre will close temporarily until further notice and thanks for your patronage. I was unable to find any evidence of a reopening after this date.

Towards the beginning of 2003 the long closed Montgomery Ward building, an anchor tenant of the Crossroads Shopping Center, was demolished along with several other stores including the AMC Crossroads 8 Theatre that had been closed since September of 2002.

Today a Home Depot sits on the site along with several other businesses. The former Crossroads Theatre is a Toys R Us store. Whether the original building was demolished or renovated for retail use remains unclear. The current street view seems to indicate the building was either drastically modified or torn down and replaced by a new retail structure.

Contributed by Nick DiMaggio
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