1939 – NOW
The St. Pete Beach Theatre is a historic landmark along the west coast of Florida. Built in 1939 for about $50,000 by Boston financier Stephen Girard, it was said to be the first theater ever erected for sound equipment on the coast. The original theatre was fitted out with 528 seats (currently, there are 245 seats).
On opening day, Monday, January 15th, 1940, they showed Dust Be My Destiny, starring Precilla Lane, and topped off the evening with a comedy and the latest Fox Movietone News, which in those times covered the horrific WWII stories that were happening every day over in Europe.
When German U-boats were spotted off the coast a blackout was ordered that forced the theater to suspend operation for about 18 months. Except for that period, the theater has operated continuously under a succession of owners up until 2007, when screenwriter Michael France bought the theater.
The Theatre was the first building on Corey Avenue, which was a fairly busy road in those days because the causeway was the only route on and off St.Pete Beach.
If you visit the theater, you can see the framed playbill from the theater’s debut. The poster’s corners are slightly torn and the print is faded, but the admission catches the eye. The original owners must have been optimistic about inflation because the poster proclaims the price as “10–25 cents, ALWAYS.”