Iconic Tampa Theatre Begins Major Restoration


The Tampa Theatre is one of the most beloved icons in all of Tampa and the state of Florida. For more than nine decades the cultural institution has projected cinema’s finest on the big screen to the delight and applause of the Tampa Bay community.

Visitors frequently find themselves transfixed by the organist who performs before screenings, the taxidermic peacock who watches over the stage, and the meticulous majesty of all that frames the evenings main feature.

Thanks to donations from the Tampa Bay area, including a generous $250,000 contribution from Smith and Associates to renovate the concessions area, the Tampa Theatre looks to modernize while maintaining the historical value of the building.

A home for artists on Franklin Street

More than just a home for film, Tampa Theatre has hosted prominent voices in comedy, literature, history, music and conservation. George Saunders, Damien Rice, Joe Rogan and even the voices behind the popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast have enchanted their admirers on Franklin Street.

Past, present and future exist in pure harmony here — this point will be further underscored following the completion of the massive restoration project.

Beginning on November 6, the theatre will close for six weeks for its first major restoration in 40 years. In celebration of the milestone moment residents are invited to a free screening of Back to the Future at 7:30pm on November 5.

The restoration project will take the theatre “back in time” to the original 1926 look of its lobby, seats, carpet, curtains and more.

New seats and carpet will bring the theatre back to its former glory

The new seats, courtesy of the Cush Your Tush Campaign, will combine modern-day comfort, more leg room, and cup holders with the classic look of the original 1926 profile. The new plan will also incorporate enhanced ADA accommodations, with improved wheelchair areas and companion seating.

In addition to cushier seats, the Tampa Theatre will also install new carpet that duplicates the original 1926 geometric pattern, along with matching drapes onstage and throughout the auditorium, all designed with an eye toward architect John Eberson’s original vision for “The Tampa.”

You can help restore and maintain the Franklin Street gem by donating online.