Polk Theatre

121 S. Florida Avenue,
Lakeland, FL 33801

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Related Websites

Polk Theatre - Lakeland (Official)

Additional Info

Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Plitt Theatres

Architects: James E. Casale

Functions: Live Performances, Live Theater, Movies (Classic), Movies (Foreign), Movies (Independent)

Styles: Atmospheric, Italian Renaissance

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 863.682.7553

Nearby Theaters

Polk Theatre Lakeland Florida Interior

Built in 1927 to the plans of architect James E. Casale, the Polk Theatre has a mezzanine, a high balcony, a permanent backdrop of a "Venetian piazza," an orchestral pit, high twinkling stars, a cloud-covered ceiling, and an exquisite terrazzo floor. The air-conditioning system (the first in the county in the 1920’s) was a pump that used artesian well water to chill the building.

The Polk Theatre opened on December 22, 1928 with Pauline Frederick in “On Trial”. By 1941 it was operated by Paramount Pictures Inc. through their subsidiary E.J. Sparks. From November/December 1978 in was operated by Plitt Theatres. They closed it as a movie theatre on September 23, 1984 with Jim Henson’s “The Muppets Take Manhattan”. On October 15, 1984 it reopened as a performing arts venue.

Today, the 1,400-seat theatre is used for live performances as well as movies.

Contributed by Cathy Cook

Recent comments (view all 43 comments)

AndyCallahanMajorMajor on July 24, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Here is the theater in July 2010.

Patsy on July 24, 2010 at 7:07 pm

I’ve visited this theatre and it is a must-see when in Lakeland FL.

DavidZornig on April 23, 2014 at 8:11 pm

The Polk Theatre is doing a documentary about the Elvis performance in 1956. They are searching for people who attended the concert.


DavidZornig on April 23, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Just added photo dated April 30th 1927. J.E. Casale, Architect, Tampa G.A. Miller, Builder, Tampa Photo courtesy of The Polk Theatre Facebook page.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on April 15, 2017 at 1:51 am

It looks like the Polk Theatre had to be partly rebuilt twice before its opening in December, 1928, which may account in part for the original builder, John Melton, running out of funds. An article in the October 6, 1928, issue of Exhibitors Herald reported on the damage done to the region’s theaters by a recent hurricane. Several movie houses were severely damaged or completely destroyed, but the line about the Polk says “…the Polk at Lakeland lost its roof — for the second time.”

DavidZornig on August 6, 2020 at 6:12 pm

Scotty Moore’s website with many images of the Polk Theater. Studio & touring guitarist for Elvis. Coincidentally August 6, 1956 at the Polk.


Patsy on August 6, 2020 at 8:15 pm

David, A great link. Had to cut and paste then view the extensive info and fabulous photos. Thank you.

50sSNIPES on April 14, 2023 at 2:02 pm

During its later years, the Polk Theatre was operated by the Plitt Theatres chain. The Polk ended its first-run movie-house run on September 23, 1984 with “Muppets Take Manhattan” following a short closure after its run. The Polk Theatre reopened on October 15, 1984 as a performing arts house. The Polk later screened back movies years later under the independent and foreign category.

50sSNIPES on April 14, 2023 at 8:15 pm

The Polk Theatre also previously operated under the ABC Florida State Theatres chain before Plitt took over from the chain in November/December 1978.

50sSNIPES on October 9, 2023 at 9:27 pm

Functions Update: Classics films are also presented.

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