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POLK THEATRE COLLECTION, RG210, 1928-1999

Scope and Content Note

The Polk Theatre was built in 1927 to be a vaudeville house, but was modified to accommodate movies when the Florida "boom" suddenly ended and the economy soured. The Theatre opened in December 1928 and remained Lakeland's largest and most elaborate first-run "movie palace" for over five decades.

The Polk Theatre is one of only three true atmospheric theatres left in the State of Florida. It possesses a magical "stars and cloud" ceiling bathed in midnight blue. Its walls form a courtyard indoors, with full-size replicas of Italian Renaissance townhouses surrounded by a romantic sunset. Featured architectural elements include balconies, twisted Venetian columns, red tile roofs, niches and iron railings.

In 1982 a group of dedicated Polk County citizens formed a non-profit corporation to acquire, maintain and restore the Polk Theatre. The Board of Trustees applied for and received funds from the State of Florida, Bureau of Historic Preservation, to preserve the exterior and ...develop a restoration plan for the theatre complex." (from the Polk Theatre 1994 program)

The collection also includes photographs (P100, Oversize), postcards, posters (found in Box 10 of City of Lakeland Ephemera, RG 100), newspaper articles in the Vertical file and a history of the theatre entitled Mass Culture Meets Main Street, The Early Years of Lakeland's Polk Theatre by Stephen E. Branch.

Materials in this collection are organized into two series as follows: Series I,
National Register of Historic Places and Series II, Ephemera. The collection comprises .75 linear feet.