ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. – Although an icon on Corey Avenue, the doors of the Beach Theater have been closed for almost a decade, but renovations are underway at this beloved landmark thanks to a new owner and an organization non-profit.
Inside, it’s like time stood still in 2012 when a big popcorn was $4. There are cobwebs in the corners and everything is covered in a thick layer of dust.
“It was literally like someone closed the door for the day and didn’t come back for nine years,” said Shana Nichols, executive director of the Beach Theater Community Foundation.
Five months ago the property was purchased by Christopher Scott in an effort to save a piece of history. But the 82-year-old building was showing its age.
“The roof had leaked and there was water dripping from the ceiling onto the chairs,” Scott explained. “It has a very strong musty smell. Very dirty and damp.”
Scott immediately got to work, fixing the roof, forming a nonprofit, and giving the community a say in how the old movie theater should be revitalized.
“Majority of people who responded were asking if we could make it a movie theater again, a cinema, people asked for live theater, people asking if we could put bands in if we could have comedies,” said Scott.
And that’s the vision, bringing beach theater back to life.
This is a full restoration, and there is fundraising to help pay for some of the work. Crews have already begun repairing the floors, walls and ceiling, and plans are underway for renovations to the concession areas and lobby, as well as technical upgrades.
“Take a pack of Twizzlers and come see a movie here with the family,” recalls Clara Picard.
Locals have fond memories of the theater over the years. There’s a lot of interest and optimism as to what might be in store for the hall’s encore performance.
“Just seeing it sit empty for so many years broke my heart because it held such memories,” said Colleen Horan. “Plus, it’s brought the community to life. And so getting it back is so exciting.”
The goal is to return the Beach Theater to service in early summer.
LINK: Learn more about the theater renovations at https://www.spbeachtheatre.org/.