Florida is home to some amazing historic theaters. Back when they were built many of these theaters were movie theaters with only one screen. Today many of them are keeping history alive by hosting movie nights or concerts. If you love history, visiting these theaters is an amazing experience you don’t want to miss!
The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse is a theater located in Cocoa, Florida. It was built in 1924 as The Aladdin Theater to show live plays and silent films. Today you can catch musicals, plays, and concerts here with tickets costing less than $30.
The Olympia Theater is a historic theater that opened in Miami, Florida in 1926. The interior is designed to transport patrons out of the hectic Miami environment into a Spanish garden. This is a theater that you really need to step inside to see just how beautiful it is. This type of theater is known as an atmospheric theater, and it is one out of only three of its kind in Florida (the Tampa Theatre and the Polk Theatre are the other two).
The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami is not an old building as is. It opened its doors in 2006, however it is built at the site of an old Sears, Roebuck and Company department store. This store was built in 1929 and was the first example of Art Deco architecture that has now become a signature style in Miami. Only the original tower attached to the department store remains, but it holds enough history to grant this theater a spot on our list. Today the Arsht Center is the largest Performing Arts Center in the state.
The Florida Theatre is Jacksonville’s oldest theater. It was built in 1927 and was, at the time, the largest movie theatre in the state of Florida. The theater gained national news coverage in 1956 when Elvis Presley played here and the local judge threatened to have him arrested if he didn’t tone down the sexual nature of his performance. Today you can see all kinds of live events including shows from famous comedians and musicians… and don’t worry, they probably won’t have to worry about getting arrested this time.
The Saenger Theatre is a historic theatre built in 1925 on the site of an opera house in Pensacola that had been destroyed by a hurricane years earlier. It was built using actual bricks from the old opera house to keep that history alive. It was built in Spanish Baroque style to match the rich Spanish history of the area. Today the theatre mostly shows Broadway Shows with the occasional showing of classic movies as a throwback to its rich history.
The Tampa Theatre is similar to the Olympia Theatre in many ways. It was built in the same year by the same architect in the same style with a beautiful Mediterranean courtyard interior. Unlike Olympia Theatre and many of the other places on this list, the Tampa Theatre is still functioning predominantly as a movie theater despite the fact that only one movie can be shown at a time. It has managed to remain one of the last theaters of its kind in the country mostly through extensive outside funding.
The Monticello Opera house is a theatre located on the top floor of an old building known as Perkins Block. This building was built in 1890 as a department store serving many purposes, complete with a thriving opera house on top. Unfortunately the opera house didn’t stay thriving forever and fell into disrepair. It was eventually renovated and reopened to the public. Now it is home to many performances and events such as weddings.
The Polk Theatre is an historic theater built in 1928 in Lakeland, Florida. Like The Olympia Theatre and the Tampa Theatre it is an atmospheric theatre, so it is the interior that holds most of the theatre’s beauty. Lakeland was a very small town in the twenties, so the theatre was truly a part of a tight knit community. Today the Polk Theatre is home to both movie showings and live performances.
The Sarasota Opera House was originally a movie theater built as part of an office building in 1926. It was purchased by the Sarasota Opera Company (a company which had itself been operating since 1960) in 1979.
The Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center is a historical theater in Sanford, Florida. It has been through many names and many restorations throughout its time, but it was originally opened in 1923 as the Milane Theater. As the Milane Theater it was highly successful, showing both movies and live events. 2008 was its most recent re-naming as the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center. Concerts, plays, and events are held here all throughout the year.
The Sunrise Theater is a historic Theatre that opened in Fort Pierce in 1922. At the time it was the cultural hub of the city and one of the few venues of its kind in the entire state. Though it fell into disrepair and closed for many years it was reopened in 1999 as an all-purpose performing arts facility. Plays, musicals, concerts, and comedy shows are just a few of the many events held here every year.