1. Life & Culture

BBC names Tampa Theatre to its Most Beautiful list

Published Dec. 20, 2013

Add another accolade to the long list that has preceded it at Tampa Theatre: The BBC has named it one of the world's most beautiful theaters.

The news corporation's Top 10 was published online late last month, and the theatre released details about the honor on Wednesday.

In a list that ranged from a Frank Gehry designed theater in France to a Castro-era Havana theater to an outdoor screen at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, Tampa Theatre was hailed as "a temple to the 1920s Baroque, an exquisitely preserved example of silent-era movie palace excess that could double for a set in a Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler."

It also lauded the theater's Mighty Wurlitzer Organ and its 99 twinkling lights in the ceiling.

It's the second Top 10 list the 1926 theater has graced this year. In May, the Motion Picture Association of America news site named Tampa Theatre one of the 10 best movie venues in the world, one of only two U.S. theaters on the list. The 86-year-old movie palace was ranked third behind the top-ranked State Theater in Traverse City, Mich. -- restored by Oscar winner Michael Moore -- and Cine 32 in Auch, France.

A few key dates about the theater:

Oct. 15, 1926: Tampa Theatre opens with The Ace of Cads starring Adolphe Menjou. Gov. John W. Martin attends.

Aug. 15, 1975: The board of Smyrna Halifax Theatre offers to turn over the Tampa Theatre building and its leases to the city.

Jan. 7, 1976: Tampa's City Council rejects the offer 4-3.

March 19, 1976: Tampa Mayor Bill Poe recommends the city assume the land leases and pay for renovations.

Jan. 22, 1977: Grand re-opening celebration after the city rescues the theater.

March 6, 1978: Tampa Theatre is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Aug. 28, 1987: The City Council allows alcohol sales.

Feb. 18, 1989: Actor Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) appears before a screening of Gone With the Wind.

1992: The Tampa Theatre Foundation is formed to channel private sector resources into the theater.

January 2000: The box office and entry are restored. Artisans conduct a paint analysis of the walls, ceiling, box office and lighting fixtures to determine the original palette.

Jan. 21, 2005: USA Today names Tampa Theatre one of the "10 Great Places to Revel in Cinematic Grandeur."


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