Tampa’s majestic movie palace has been stunning guests with its ornately over-the-top architecture for more than 90 years. But many who visit today don’t realize that some major design
Tampa’s majestic movie palace has been stunning guests with its ornately over-the-top architecture for more than 90 years. But many who visit today don’t realize that some major design elements – the red velvet seats, carpet and main curtain, and the concession stand canopy outlined in lights – were not part of architect John Eberson’s vision: they only date back to the 1970s.
Historic photos from opening night in 1926 reveal a boldly patterned carpet and a main curtain with a narrow pinstripe, neither of which were red. (In fact, Eberson felt that red was a “bad luck” color to use in abundance.) An original seat preserved in the Theatre’s collection revealed elaborately decorated end standards and glazed fabric upholstery meant to look like warm, chocolate-hued leather. To explain more fully the research that has gone into uncovering Eberson’s original vision and show audiences the scope of work that will be completed during the November/December shutdown, Tampa Theatre’s new, hour-long Restoration Tour walks patrons through the various projects covered in this current $6 million phase and concludes with a short film featuring the project’s lead architects, designers and historical experts. Suggested donation for admission is $10 at the door, and all proceeds will benefit the Theatre’s “Cush Your Tush” fundraising campaign for the new seats.