As gigantic fun houses go, it offers some useful features. It shows 10, 16, sometimes even 24 films simultaneously.
Those who are booked to speak or perform at the theatre are fascinated by its charm.
“I was struck not only by the obvious beauty and history of the theatre, but by the dedication of the people who keep this gorgeous edifice operating day after day, and by the volunteers working hard, as well, to support the Tampa,” said Ross Melnick, co-author of Cinema Treasures.
“It’s so sweet to see grandmothers; moms and kids show up to see “The Wizard of Oz” wearing matching ruby slippers.
Coming September 16th is the theatre’s sixth annual wine event and this one will be particularly poignant as it falls on the eve of the theatre’s 80th birthday.
A legion of gargoyles grimace and gape, cherubs frolic amid classic sculptures of Julius Caesar, Christopher Columbus and all manner of saints, gods and goddesses surrounded by 16th-Century antiques.
Fair-weather clouds swirl above in a blue-pink sky that fades to blue-black.
The theatre enjoyed decades of success as one of downtown’s grand dames, but as more and more people left the city for booming suburban sprawl, she seemed doomed for a date with the wrecking ball.
Bill Schultz, who served as assistant manager of the Tampa Theatre from 1950 until the end of 1952, remembers when “the streets were so crowded at night, you couldn’t move. We would close down between and midnight, and folks could go grab a bite to eat very easily.
This year, the movie-themed affair is called “The Grape Gatsby” (previous designations include “Raiders of the Lost Cork” and “Gone with the Wine”).