55 S. Flagler Avenue,
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Previous Names: Air Dome, Colonial Theater, Homestead Garden Theatre, Homestead Movies
What is now the Landmark Hotel building began its life in 1912-13 as an open-air cinema called the Air Dome on E. Flagler Street in downtown Miami.
In 1916, it was disassembled and moved south via the Florida East Coast Railway to Homestead and reassembled at 55 S. Flagler Avenue.
A Miami Herald article that includes some history of Homestead’s theaters says the Air Dome had been located at 174 E. Flagler Street, which would be the first of the two Airdomes indicated on Cinema Treasures as having existed at that Miami address where the Olympia Theatre is now.
One version of the Landmark’s origin story, however, found on page 75 of the book “A Journey Through Time: A Pictorial History of South Dade” by Paul S. George, describes the Air Dome that was moved as being the one next to the Burdine’s department store (at 30 E. Flagler Street on Google Maps). He says that theatre’s retractable canvas roof caught fire in 1915 and damaged the store, which then sued the City of Miami for not having enforced its codes against flammable building materials. The City then condemned the roof and the theater closed, then moved.
Another version in the City of Homestead’s history brochure “Homestead Then & Now”, and an online article by local historian Larry Wiggins called “17 Must-Visit Historic Treasures in Homestead and Florida City”, does not mention a fire or the Air Dome’s address but states in 1914 it was turned into an “enclosed two story structure and renamed the Colonial Theater” before it was moved.
One account from Bob Jensen, president of the Town Hall Museum in Homestead, in the Miami Herald article, adds it then opened in the new location as “the Homestead Garden Theatre, [and] sometime between 1916 and 1919, the movie theater changed names becoming the Homestead Movies”.
These sources then agree it became the Seminole Theater in 1919. The “Homestead Then & Now” brochure indicates this occurred when James W. English purchased it, “converting the second story into bedrooms to relieve overcrowding from local boarding houses.”
In 1921 Mr. English opened a new Seminole Theatre at 18 N. Krome Avenue where the Seminole Cultural Arts Theatre is now, and the first one ceased exhibiting films to become the Seminole Hotel.
The remaining theatre space in the former cinema was remodeled into hotel rooms in 1936 and the establishment included a cafe. In 1965 new owners changed the name to the Landmark Hotel.
In his article Mr. Wiggins observes: “The wide eaves and high windows on the building’s sides are remnant of the early days of silent movie theaters before air-conditioning. They allowed the heat of the projectors to escape while blocking light. Today [the Landmark Hotel] operates as a rooming house.“
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