First Century Athens Theater Celebration in DeLand
DeLand’s Athens Theater celebrates its 100th anniversary this week. The DeLand Monument opened on January 6, 1922, featuring the silent film “The Black Panther’s Cub”, the Jack King comedians and a nine-piece orchestra.
LM Patterson, who had moved to DeLand in 1920 and established the DeLand Moving Picture Company, built the theater and spared no expense. The front walls of the room used Indiana tapestry bricks and artificial stone. Inside was a 5-foot-high and 16-foot-long Wurlitzer organ and room for a 25-piece orchestra in the pit.
Even after the disappearance of vaudeville, the performance hall lasted a long time and became a movie theater. A false facade covered its ornate masonry in the 1950s. It closed as a movie theater in 1975 with a final screening of “Young Frankenstein”. Demolition seemed like the next logical step.
But somehow the theater was limping for a while. It has had a spectacularly short season as a dinner theater – around two months – and as a venue for cups and movies and arcade games. It looked pretty sad in 1994 when the MainStreet DeLand Association bought the building and raised funds to stabilize and restore it. Sands Theater Center Inc. took over the project in 2004. ECHO Grants from Volusia County, Cultural Grants from the Florida State Department, and federal money from HUD have all helped bring Athens back to its greatness. origin.
It reopened in 2009 and is once again becoming a cultural and entertainment center of the city.
– Mark Lane
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