Arcade Theater

30 E. Flagler Street,
Miami, FL 33131

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Area of The Arcade and Air Dome in 1910's next to Burdine's/Macy's

In a chapter entitled “Development of Miami’s Theaters” of the book “Historical Sketches And Sidelights Of Miami, Florida” printed in 1925, local author Isidor Cohen writes:

“The year 1906 marks the advent of Miami’s motion-picture shows… The first movie theater was opened by a Mr. Kelly, in the ‘Hatchet’ building, on East Flagler Street, between Miami Avenue and 1st Avenue.”

So Kelly’s Theater, as it has been called, was Miami’s first cinema.

One year later, as Mr. Cohen describes, Mr. Kelly “added vaudeville features to his one-reel movie show” and drove out of business an “improvised theater … known as the ‘Alcazar’” that had appeared nearby “in the east storeroom of the ‘Daniel’ block, on East Flagler Street near 1st Avenue”.

About a year after that “a real theater was built for Mr. Kelly, which was located on West Flagler Street…”, to which he apparently relocated.

“In 1912 Captain Frank Jaudon and his youngest brother, the late Ivan Jaudon, reopened the theater in the ‘Hatchet’ building, which they named Arcade Theater This firm later built an airdome on the adjoining lot where now stands the Kress building”.

This Air Dome therefore (there were others with that name at 174 East Flagler Street), and maybe The Arcade as well, must have been gone by 1925 when this history was published.

A photo that appears in the article “Miami Avenue & Flagler Street in 1913” on the Miami-History website shows the Burdines department store building in the background, which today still stands as Macy’s, and the Air Dome in the foreground to the east of it. The article then states, “Other businesses… [in] the photo within view include the Hatchet Building, Arcade Theater…”, so the Hatchet Building that Isidor Cohen says housed Mr. Kelly’s/Arcade Theatre must have been to the east of Burdines/Macy’s.

In 2017 the space where this Air Dome was has been a vacant lot since the most recent building there was demolished in 2008. An article on a real estate news website regarding the next building to the east of the empty space says that building was constructed in 1934, so the Hatchet Building must be gone as well, regardless of where it exactly was in the historic photo.

Contributed by David_Schneider

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

David_Schneider on February 10, 2017 at 8:46 am

Check out the complete text of the “Development of Miami’s Theaters” chapter of Isidor Cohen’s book.

There are a few more theatres in there that came and went that are not listed on Cinema Treasures but there might not be much information about them outside of being mentioned therein.

I enjoy the part that says, after Kelly’s Theatre drove the Alcazar out of business, “Noting the victor’s apparent prosperity, one of our pioneer boys, Henry Chase (recently elected sheriff of Dade County), opened a movie theater in an old shack which stood on North First Avenue, where now stands the First Trust and Savings Bank building. That caricature of a theater served as a retreat for somnambulists and victims of insomnia.”

Here’s a link to the article “Miami Avenue & Flagler Street in 1913” on the website.

Compare the historic photo to the present day Street View image for a look at now versus the 1910’s, with the Burdine’s/Macy’s building still present.

Cinema Treasures page for the other Air Domes.

An article in the January 27, 1975 issue of Box Office: “Nickel Shows, Live Music, Tents: Miami’s Early Film Days Recalled”

David_Schneider on February 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

Mr. Cohen’s phrasing seems to indicate the actual name was “The Arcade”.

Cinema Treasures changed my use of the words The Arcade in my original submission to Arcade Theater before posting and explained:

On the site we don’t use the word ‘The’ as part of theatre names as there would be possibly hundreds of ‘The’s’ and to find The Arcade when doing a search would be neigh impossible. Most people would search for Arcade, as theatres are listed alphabetically.

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