Tropic Theatre

122 W. Main Street,
Leesburg, FL 34748

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The 500-seat Fain Theatre was originally built in 1932 as the B-movie house in Leesurg. In 1960 it went through in extensive renovation to the plans of Rufus E. Bland, and was renamed the Tropic Theatre. In 1979 it was added onto and became the Tropic Twin Theatre. It continued to show first run movies until the mid-1980’s. It then changed hands several times and was finally closed in June 2004.

Garner/Rojas Properties has now purchased it and restoration and renovations have started. The original side will be restored to the 1936-era while the other side will be renovated to a state of the art movie and performing arts theatre.

Terry Hicks bought the theatre in 2006 and renovated it. The redone auditorium will house the new Leesburg’s childrens theatre, ‘Tropic Troup’. The auditorium was stripped back to its brick walls. The floors were discovered to be red oak. There are also two dance studios.

The Tropic Theatre reopened as a 238-seat movie theatre at a special midnight screening of “Twilight Saga:Breaking Dawn” on November 10, 2011.

Contributed by Kristi Boliek

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on August 8, 2007 at 10:55 pm

The Tropic was taken over by a church from 1991 to 1993, according to the church website:
http://tinyurl.com/2dhlxh

magicians
magicians on September 18, 2007 at 3:32 pm

The Church was only there for 1 year and they leased the older side of the Tropic on Sunday mornings only. The Calvary Babtist Church had around 100 members and once in a while they helf Christian Rock concerts at the theater as well. The membership left when their new building was completed.

magicians
magicians on September 18, 2007 at 3:34 pm

The Theater was in full operation during the Churches occupation.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on September 22, 2007 at 10:05 pm

In 1963 the Tropic was part of the MCM Theater Co, based in the Tropic building in Leesburg. The IMPA for that year states that the Tropic Florida in Leesburg was for “colored patronage”, so apparently the theater was segregated at that time.

SteveVerno
SteveVerno on May 20, 2008 at 9:16 am

In 1973, after moving to Leesburg, I went to work at the Tropic. She was a grand old lady but spooky. ON a Sunda, while getting things set up, I was in the new side projection room. Out of the corner of my eye, i saw someone in a checkered shirt walk by to get to the old side. I thought it was my coworker. I heard the front door banging, so I went downstairs and it was my coworker. I asked him how he got locked out. He sai he just got there. I told him I sa him going to the old side. We both walked to the old side projection room. The machines were threaded and in the corner of the room was the checkered shirt I saw. That same night, while cleaning up in the old 1936 theater, I looked up and saw the lights on in the projection room. I dont know how they were on because you turned off everything at the circuit board. After cleaning up, my coworker and I heard someone walking towards the stairs. The lights upstairs turned on and we heard the stairs creak like someone was coming down. We shut the door and left the building. As we drove away, I looked back and saw the door to the upstairs slowly open but no one was there. It still makes my hair stand up thinking about it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 16, 2009 at 4:00 am

The architect for the 1960 remodeling of the Fain Theatre into the Tropic, which was quite extensive, was Rufus E. Bland. Bland was the long-time in-house architect for the Martin circuit, and MCM, the company that operated the Tropic, was a partnership that included members of the Martin family. The remodeled theater had 450 seats, according to an article in Boxoffice of April 3, 1961, which was accompanied by three small photos of the house.

AndyCallahanMajorMajor
AndyCallahanMajorMajor on August 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

Here are my pictures from August 2010.

DonLewis
DonLewis on September 15, 2010 at 1:46 am

A photo of the the Fain Theatre before becoming the Tropic in Leesburg.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 19, 2010 at 10:50 pm

All the pictures were nice,nice story Steve.I too,worked in an old theatre,always strange sounds,but no ghosts.No such thing.It is all in the mind.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm

The original architect of the Fain Theatre was Roy A. Benjamin. Here is the announcement of the opening from the January 24, 1936, issue of The Film Daily:

“New Leesburg House Opens

“Leesburg, Fla. — The Fain Theater, new 500-seat motion picture house, was opened this week by Earle M. Fain, owner and manager. It was planned by R. A. Benjamin of Jacksonville, architect for E. J. Sparks, and cost about $25,000. Building includes separate balcony and ticket window for Negroes.”

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