Palace Theatre

700 Tampa Street,
Tampa, FL 33601

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Showing 1 - 25 of 53 comments

davidcoppock on October 20, 2018 at 12:30 pm

This picture theatre is now gone with the wind.

rivest266 on September 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

This reopened on December 25th, 1947. Grand opening ad below and the photo section.

Found on

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on December 4, 2016 at 2:48 pm

I saw Grand Prix at the Palace at least twice. I still have the ticket stub along with 7 ticket stubs for Sound of Music. Today it isn’t easy finding someone who remembers Cinerama. The majority of today’s moviegoers have never heard of it nor have the slightest idea what you’re talking about. If they could only experience it…

I was there the day the building was demolished. Before the wrecking ball began pounding the rear wall I entered the building looking for anything I could carry out. Surprisingly the auditorium lights were on. One guy on the main level was attempting to dismantle some seats. I opened the door to the Cinerama projection booth only to find it had been completely stripped to the bare walls. The 70mm projectors and all other equipment had been removed. There was literally nothing at all remaining. I found a “Balcony Closed—Seating on Main Level” sign along with the metal stand still sitting on the balcony stairway.

Running upstairs to check the old 35mm booth only to find it had also been stripped. Groping blindly in the semi-darkness and grabbing at anything movable I found a half gallon of projector oil and two boxes of carbons. The manager’s office was also empty except for a couple of Cinerama Reservation ticket pads on the floor which I grabbed. About this time the wrecking ball was pounding on the rear wall and the building began shaking. Running quickly downstairs and back into the auditorium I pushed the curtain aside and pulled out a couple strips of the Cinerama screen and made it out safely. I miss the Palace.

P. K. "Budd" Ballard
P. K. "Budd" Ballard on December 3, 2016 at 10:14 am

I saw GRAND PRIX here seven times. I kept coming back and bringing friends that had never seen CINERAMA. What a great experience. I wish it was still there and still running CINERAMA. I speak to most people now about CINERAMA and they have no concept of what it was like.

irvl on April 8, 2015 at 10:01 am

What a great write up on the Palace, and the photo section is fantastic. I saw all of the Cinerama pictures at the Palace as well as IT’S A MAD, MAD WORLD and 2001. I lament its passing.

Johnny62 on April 8, 2015 at 5:45 am

Coate, I read and enjoy all your posts and box office reports. I just don’t post a lot. I saw the SOM the first time at the Midtown in Philadelphia and several more times at the Boyd in Allentown, Pa. Please keep the information coming.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on April 7, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Mike, I felt it was a must to note the record run of the film on its 50th anniversary at the Palace. I’ve watched for comments on other anniversary dates but have seen practically none. I have also noted your various postings in March drawing attention to the anniversary dates, and am fairly shocked and surprised at the seemingly lack of interest and/or comments. This is sad to say the least.

Coate on April 7, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Nick… I’m pleased to see others mentioning the 50th anniversary of “The Sound of Music” given that film’s popularity and the fact it holds the long-run record in many (most?) of the theaters in which it played. That’s trivia to some, of course, but to me it’s essential information for a website such as this one that seeks to document the history of movie theaters.

You may have noticed during March I had been mentioning on the relevant pages here an “It premiered fifty years ago today” for the theaters in which “The Sound of Music” opened during its first couple of weeks. But a lack of subsequent comments suggested few were interested in such information and so I skipped the bookings for the last week of March. (Or maybe it was the article plugs that readers found off-putting?) Anyway, maybe now I’ll resume with the April 7th bookings (other than Tampa’s Palace since you just mentioned it).

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on April 7, 2015 at 3:35 am

Fifty years ago today “The Sound of Music” premiered at the Palace and ran for a phenomenal 77 weeks. Presented in TODD-AO and 6-track stereophonic sound on the curved 58-foot wide screen, the reserved seat engagement played to capacity audiences for months with thousands seeing it over and over again, myself included. The 70MM print was later exchanged for a 35MM print for the duration of the run. An article published in the Tampa Tribune during the film’s final week noted the long run as being “unprecedented in Tampa history.”

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on July 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm

“Gone With The Wind” ad from 1968 showing posted under photos tab.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

That’s right Dan. Also the Citizens Building was right next door to the Florida Theatre which may have been called the Franklin Theatre at the time. It opened as the Florida and later became the Franklin and was then changed back to the Florida years later.

tampapix on June 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Nice work, Nick! So the soda fountain was about a block away from the Victory Theater, and same block, across from where the Tampa Theater was built in 1926.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 6, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I checked the city directories for 1920-1929 and found a listing for “The Palace” under Sodas-Retail at 706 Franklin Street which places the fountain in the former Citizens Bank Building. The address for the Citizens Building is listed as 702-708 Franklin St. Strangely enough the fountain doesn’t appear under the listing for Soda Fountains in any directory.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on June 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Great photo! The Victory Theatre became the Palace on Christmas Day 1947. If memory serves me correctly I recall reading something about a Palace cafe/restaurant in Tampa. On my next visit to the library I’ll check the 1925 city directory since it lists addresses for all businesses. Will be interesting to see where this was located at.

tampapix on June 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Thanks DW! The soda fountain photo is from 1925. The write up here wasn’t clear to me when the Victory became the Palace. But if that transition didn’t take place after 1930, then as you said, it seems likely that the fountain wouldn’t have been called the Palace if it was still in the Victory in 1925.

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on June 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

The picture looks like it was taken at an earlier time, perhaps back when the theater was called “The Victory Theatre”. I know my parents always referred to the theatre as “The Victory”, since that was the name they grew up with. If the picture was taken back in the 20s or 30s, the soda fountain certainly couldn’t have been named after the theater.

Richard Wheeler
Richard Wheeler on June 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I never heard of the Palace Soda Fountain, and I don’t remember anything like that at the Palace Theatre. But, perhaps I just don’t recall it!

tampapix on June 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Does anyone know if the “Palace Soda Fountain” was located in the Palace Theater? Fla. State archives has a photo of this soda fountain, but doesn’t relate it to the theater:

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on May 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Archived editions of the St. Petersburg Times are available online and luckily include several of Tampa’s theatres in the daily time clock listings. This makes it easy researching playdates from home rather than making a trip to the library.

I just checked the Palace listings for “Mary Poppins” and found that the film opened on January 14, 1965 and ran through April 6, 1965 when it was moved over to the Florida Theatre to continue the long engagement. The move was due to “The Sound of Music” set to open at the Palace on April 7, 1965. So the “Mary Poppins” engagement was after both “Mad Mad World” and “Circus World.”

GSVuille on May 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

When did “Mary Poppins run”? Was it before “…Mad World” or after “Circus World”? Very confusing, and my memory is playing tricks on me. I suppose if a movie is presented in Cinerama, then, whether it’s a 35mm print or a 70mm print it would still technically be considered to be a ‘Cinerama’ presentation as long as it was projected on a portion of that incredible Super Cinerama screen at the Palace.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on April 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Just finished some additional research. I’m trying to determine exactly when the 3-projector Cinerama booth was stripped and replaced with 70mm Cinerama single lens projectors. I began a week-by-week search following the engagement of “How The West Was Won” and it appears the equipment was more than likely switched out the week beginning August 15, 1964.

Here’s the timeline:

“How The West Was Won” was the last 3-strip film to play. The run ends on November 21, 1963.

“Under The Yum Yum Tree” opens on November 22, 1963 (first 35mm attraction to play on the Cinerama screen) and runs through December 8, 1963.

Theatre closes on December 9, 1963 and remains closed through April 14, 1964 for a total of nearly 19 weeks without any published explanation given for the closure that I could find.

Theatre reopens on April 15, 1964 with “Cleopatra” which runs through May 26, 1964.

Following the 19 week closure when the Palace reopened with “Cleopatra” I remember looking back towards the Cinerama booth and noticing no changes had been made to the portholes. “Cleopatra” was projected from the balcony booth.

“It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World” opens on May 27, 1964 and runs through August 14, 1964. The film was also projected from the balcony booth.

Theatre closes once again on August 15, 1964 for a total of 6 days. I believe this is the week the equipment was switched out in preparation for the next attraction.

“Circus World” opens on August 21, 1964 in 70mm Cinerama. “Photographed in Super-Technirama 70” is included in the newspaper ads in addition to “presented in Cinerama.”

So “Circus World” was the first 70mm film to play at the Palace. “The Sound of Music” which would open about 8 months later would be the second 70mm attraction. After playing for several weeks it would be exchanged for a 35mm print.

Correction and update:

In my initial post of the Palace I incorrectly stated the closing year as 1976. Between 1976 and 1978 the Palace closed and reopened at least 3 times. I verified the final day of operation was September 29, 1978 with the double feature “It’s Alive” and “Five Fingers of Death” as the final program. On September 30, 1978 the Palace closed for good. The building was demolished in December 1979.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on January 19, 2013 at 10:35 am

I have a friend who was a former “relief” operator who worked the booths for all of Tampa’s theatres and drive-ins. The local projectionists union would contact him whenever a projectionist had vacation or sick time off. Although he never worked any of the 3- strip Cinerama films at the Palace, he was contacted one afternoon to run a matinee showing of “2001” in 70mm. According to him the management at the Palace preferred the booth be manned by two projectionists for all 70mm showings at the time. He and another projectionist ran “2001” that afternoon. Unfortunately he couldn’t recall if the 70mm projectors were capable of conversion to 35mm or not.

According to him the projectors in the balcony booth were definitely 35mm as he worked that booth many times. All attractions he ran were optical sound but he didn’t remember if those projectors had magnetic stereo heads. Under the photos tab above (on the second page) the opening day ad for “The Robe” mentions CinemaScope Stereophonic Sound so the film was in fact presented in stereo. I would guess more than likely the heads were either removed after the engagement had ended or possibly they were still attached but no longer functioning. Having seen “IAMMMMW” at least 3 times at the Palace I also do not recall the film having stereo sound—I think this proves no doubt it was 35mm optical. Also your friend having seen IAMMMMW in 70mm and noticing several scenes were missing from the print projected at the Palace is proof in itself that the Palace was running a 35mm print. I would sincerely doubt any cuts would have been made if the Palace was running a 70mm roadshow print.

Just yesterday I was browsing through the theatre ads in the St. Petersburg Times (available online) and I came across an article published around the opening date of “This Is Cinerama” at the Palace. The article highlights the rennovations made and states that the Palace was in fact a Super Cinerama Theatre—the only one in the state of Florida. I had read somewhere that “Super Cinerama” were theatres with enormous wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor screens—larger than standard Cinerama theatres—and projection booths constructed on the main level center section. It’s nice to know the Palace was one of these.

GSVuille on January 18, 2013 at 9:09 am

Yes, Nick, I do believe it was “Grand Prix” which was the first of the 70mm single-lens Cinerama films at the Palace. The installation of 70mm in the old orchestra Cinerama booth must have taken place in the period after “Mary Poppins” moved to the Tampa Theatre to make way for “The Sound of Music”. The other 35mm presentations you mentioned I did not see in 1964 or 1965—just “…Mad World” in June 1964. They had reserved seats for IAMMMMW, and sold programs with presented in Cinerama on them. My friend and I went up to peer through the balcony projection booth windows—but we couldn’t tell for sure if it was 70mm. I assumed it was 35mm because I don’t remember IAMMMMW having stereo sound. Plus, my friend had been in Cleveland, OH, and did see “…Mad World” in 70mm Cinerama in late 1963—and he pointed out during the Palace showing that many scenes had been cut out of the film. Since you mentioned the old Palace CinemaScope film “The Robe” having been presented with stereo sound it prompts me to wonder why it wasn’t present for “…Mad World”. It is true that a lot of theatres installing CinemaScope in the 1950’s didn’t put in the four channel stereo sound system, opting for cheaper mono optical sound. And it is also true that when United Artists struck the 35mm Scope prints of IAMMMMW, most all of them probably didn’t carry the four channel magnetic tracks—this was the early sixties and only first run theatres might present Scope films with stereo sound. Confusingly, I’ve also read about 35mm projectors being converted to 70mm with a special kit that Panavision, Inc. made available—so it’s entirely possible that the balcony booth could have been converted to 70mm for “…Mad World”. But honestly, I just don’t believe that happened at the Palace, as the “Mary Poppins” 35mm run as well as all the other 35mm Scope 2.35:1, and Flat 1.85:1 films at the Palace were all projected from the balcony booth. It would be great if Palace theatre projectionists could be found to comment on this—there must have been a lot of them considering the 3-strip presentations required five. Of course, they must have all lost their jobs—you only need one for 35mm or 70mm presentations. By May of 1964, the run of 70mm single lens Cinerama presentations was already seven months old—I’m sure United Artists was anxious to get the Scope prints of “…Mad World” to the theatres so as to increase their profit margins.

Nick DiMaggio
Nick DiMaggio on January 16, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Thanks again, I enjoyed your second post. What a coincidence—I also saw “The Fox” at the Palace! Yes it’s a shame the 3-strip process only lasted a few years. I saw all the 3-strip films as well as the 70mm attractions. As I recall “Grand Prix” was the first single-lens Cinerama film to play at the Palace. The film was advertised with the tagline “the new Cinerama” although I wasn’t sure what that meant. I was unaware at the time that single-lens had replaced 3-strip. Before the film began I looked back towards the booth and saw the three glass projection panels had been replaced by two larger ones. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and was anxious for the film to begin and see what this “new Cinerama” was all about. When the film began and the curtain cleared the screen I noticed the masking had been repositioned inward on each side shortening the image by several feet. That “in-the-picture” feeling was practically lost. TIC in 70mm was so disappointing. The image was slightly grainy and the vibrant & brilliant color of the 3-strip process was gone. I remember an elderly lady (obviously familiar with the 3-strip films) was sitting behind me at the showing. During intermission she turned to her companion and gesturing with her hand she said, “the picture use to come clear around from that end of the screen to this end of the screen over here-—I don’t believe those guys up there know what their doing!” It took awhile for me to become accustomed to the single-lens process and by the time “2001” opened I had accepted it. Regardless of the shortcomings it was still the largest screen of any theatre in town.

I was always fascinated with the Cinerama strip screen. Many times when the movie ended and the curtain closed I’d go behind the curtain on the left side and slowly edge my way up to the strips near the masking. Since I was walking on a slight incline behind the curtain where the floor meets the screen I had to be careful not to loose my balance and fall out under the curtain onto the floor. When I reached the side masking I touched the strips putting my hand between and through them being careful not to damage them. In addition to being anchored at the floor and ceiling I don’t recall if they were also anchored at the mid-section. On the right side of the screen behind the curtain and just beyond the exit door there were three or four steps leading up to an open doorway and onto the original large backstage area. Several feet behind the Cinerama screen stood the huge CinemaScope screen still sitting in place. It looked massive. Also hanging high up in the fly loft was another smaller screen which I think was probably the screen installed when the theatre was renovated and renamed the Palace in 1947.

Thanks for mentioning something I hadn’t been able to figure out for years. When the engagement of “HTWWW” ended the Palace opened “Under the Yum Yum Tree” which ran for maybe 2 or 3 weeks. Afterwards the theatre closed for a period of time reopening with “Cleopatra” as I recall. I’ve always wondered what the reason was for the closure. As you mentioned it was for the installation of the 70mm single-lens system. So I would venture to guess the very first 70mm attraction the Palace played was “The Sound of Music” in 1965.

I remember the programs for sale during the Cinerama attractions. The ushers carried them around while directing patrons to their reserved seats. Interestingly the Palace management never had guys as ushers during the reserved seat attractions. They always had young ladies.