Tampa Theatre is an opulent landmark of the movie palace area. Built in the 1920s, the theatre was designed in the atmospheric style. The outside looks as nondescript as any department store, save for the glowing marquee sign out front, but the interior is elegant and enchanting. Surrounding the screen is a facade which, with its statues, balconies, and stucco roofing, was made to resemble an Italian courtyard, and the ceiling above the seating area is done to look like a starry blue sky. The theatre is now on the National Register of Historic Places and offers conducted tours of the balcony and stage.
The theatre was built in 1926 and was designed by John Eberson, a famed theater architect. It was financed by Paramount Studios, which was a very common thing for movie studios to do at that time, due to the monopoly that the studios held on movie production. The theatre's biggest selling points when it opened, along with its fabulous and magical design, were the Wurlitzer pipe organ that was played on stage, and that movie goers could come and see a show for twenty-five cents.
In the 1950s, the invention of the television dealt a hard blow to the theatre, as audiences could now get film entertainment within their own homes. The mass movement of people to Tampa's suburbs in the 1960s also harmed many city businesses, including the theatre, and in 1973 it closed its the doors. The theatre faced the possibility of being demolished, but the people of Tampa rallied and convinced the city to buy it, therefore saving the old building. The theatre reopened in 1977 and has been entertaining the citizens of Tampa ever since.
The theater now hosts regular showings of popular new movies, as well as various film festivals showcasing modern and classic films. Performances by musicians and bands from a wide variety of genres also grace the theatre's stage. The theatre offers a 90-minute tour, known as the Balcony-To-Backstage Tour, of its facility on various dates throughout the year. The tour covers much of the theatre's history, as well as information on the architecture, pipe organ, and resident ghost stories.
Bands and individuals that have performed at the theatre include, but not limited to: Glam Metal Band, Sleeze Beez, Arlo Guthrie and Old Crow Medicine Show.