Stories Told, Stories Made
Although single-screen theatres are rare these days, in their heydey they provided one of the first forms of mass media entertainment available to the general public. Thousands of movie “palaces” were built between the 1910s and the 1940s. Most were decorated in an ornate European fashion intended to “make the common man feel like royalty.”
The image above is of the marquis of the Tampa Theatre, a cultural and historic landmark in the downtown area of the city. The “Tampa,” which opened in 1926, was designed by John Eberson, an architect who specialized in “atmospheric” theatres. The ceilings of his theatres resembled an open sky and their auditoriums gave moviegoers the sense of being in a courtyard.
When it was first built, the Tampa Theatre was the center of Tampa’s social and cultural scene. It was grand, it was novel, it was fun, and it was also Tampa’s first air conditioned building. Its “mighty Wurlitzer” organ accompanied the silent films of the time. Later, though it was no longer the centerpiece of the show, the Wurlitzer was played before the scheduled cartoons, newsreels, and films were shown. That tradition continues today, especially during the December holidays when the audience gets to sing along with traditional Christmas carols that are played in advance of a variety of classic holiday films.
The theatre fell on hard times during the 1960s and 1970s as people moved away from older downtown areas to more suburban neighborhoods. While many theatres in other cities were demolished to make room for newer development, Tampa’s theatre has been preserved due to a unique city and not-for-profit partnership. Silent films, classics, first run hits (and misses), and cult favorites continue to be shown at the theatre. The theatre earns about 60% of its annual operating budget from movies and by hosting events including an Oscar Night celebration, backstage tours, and summer camps for children. The remainder of its funding comes from individual, corporate, and foundation support.
A theatre’s purpose is, of course, to tell stories, but the stories and memories made within its walls are probably more long-lasting and important. Patrons’ stories of first kisses, falling in (or out of) love, marriage proposals, and more are recounted on the Tampa Theatre’s website. The theatre even has its own ghost, “Fink,” the theatre’s long-time projectionist who died of a heart attack while showing a movie.
Posted for Texture Tuesday at Kim Klassen’s Café. I applied Lightroom’s B&W Creative-Antique Grayscale to the image and added Kim’s Phoebe and Edward textures (set to Multiply at 100% and Soft Light at 100%, respectively). I desaturated the Edward texture and then deleted the center of the Phoebe texture and the edges of the Edward texture to give a framed effect to the image.