1011 22nd Street South,
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Royal Theater - St. Petersburg (Official)
Architects: Phillip F. Kennard
Functions: Community Arts Center
Styles: Quonset Hut
The Royal Theater opened in 1948, on 22nd Street, in the heart of St. Petersburg’s African-American community with the Western film, “Panhandle”. It was built for Bill Boardman and Horace Williams, Jr., two St. Petersburg businessmen.
The 700-seat movie house was built in Quonset Hut style, and was one of a couple movie theaters catering to African Americans during the segregation era, including the long-demolished Park Theater and the Harlem THeater. Besides movies, live entertainment and talent shows packed the Royal Theater to overflowing in its hey day.
The theater closed in 1966. It now houses the Southside Boys and Girls Club and underwent a major renovation in 2003. The former Royal Theater is a focal point of the revival of the 22nd Street South area, and still regarded with fond memories by older residents of the neighborhood who recall when it was hailed as “an inspiration for the whole community” by a local newspaper when it first opened. It still can be described as such today.
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