REVEAL RETURN OF ORIGINAL 1926 AESTHETICS
New ‘Restoration Tour’ Will Share Details of Architect John Eberson’s
Earth-Tone Seats, Bold Carpet Pattern and (Surprise!) Striped Main Stage Curtain
TAMPA, Fla. (July 24, 2017) – 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.
“I saw the value of putting nature to work and so have borrowed the color and design that are found in the flowers and the trees,” Eberson wrote of his design for Tampa Theatre, which he called his “favorite” of the atmospheric (i.e. with a night sky-looking ceiling) theatres that he built.
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. The concessions stand didn’t even exist in the original plans; a simple counter – designed to complement the lobby architecture, not overwhelm it – was added in the 1930s.
“When we reopen in December, I think people are going to be surprised by what they see, which will be stunningly beautiful, but very different than what we’ve grown accustomed to over the past 40 years,” says Theatre President & CEO John Bell of the upcoming restoration work. “Our responsibility is to preserve and protect this incredible landmark, and an important part of that work is to return the building to its original appearance wherever possible. We are letting Eberson’s designs drive our decision-making because – let’s face it – he’s much smarter than any of us are when it comes to 1920s movie palace architecture.”
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 will launch a new Restoration Tour at 12:00pm Thursday, August. 3. These hour-long tours will walk patrons through the various projects covered in this current $6 million phase and conclude with a short film featuring the project’s lead architects, designers and historical experts.
Restoration Tours will be offered at noon Thursdays, Aug. 3 and Sept. 28; and at 10:00am Saturdays, Aug. 19 and Sept. 16. 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. For details, visit www.tampatheatre.org/tours