WEEKI WACHEE — The underwater theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is set to undergo a major renovation this summer, returning its roof to the original look that helped entice motorists to the roadside mermaid attraction from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The Florida Division of Recreation and Parks will remove the wooden shingles that have long graced the theater and expose the original concrete barrel vaults that were designed to resemble a giant seashell.
"We're excited about it going back to its original form," said park spokesman John Athanason. "It does represent Old Florida."
The project is expected to cost about $120,000.
Athanason said the clamshell or seashell look is a better representation of the attraction and its historic charm than the existing roof, which is leaking in some places and was in need of repair. He said it will capture the eyes of those who pass by on U.S. 19, just like it did when the theater was originally built in the 1950s.
"It's going to say, 'That's where the mermaids perform,' " he said.
The wooden shingles have covered the theater's roof since 1974 in an attempt to match the park's South Pacific theme. Park officials originally were planning to replace the shingles, but that changed during the planning process.
"They decided that the historic seashell treasure hiding beneath the wooden roof was simply too special to continue to obstruct it from public view," according to a news release from the attraction.
After removing the shingles, workers will install a new, fluid-applied membrane over the exiting barrel vaults.
Contact Danny Valentine at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.