If you are looking for an exciting adventure, something new, out of the ordinary and a bit spooky, then an evening visit to the Tampa Theatre located at 711 N. Franklin Street is where you need to go. It has a long history, being around since 1926, three short years before the Great Depression. It was designed to be one of the most opulent, lush and lavish movie palaces in America. Till this day it is one of the best-preserved examples of this style and conveys a feeling of luxury.
The theatre was built by Paramount Pictures and designed by famed architect John Eberson. In his own writings, Eberson said that the Tampa Theatre was his favorite among the atmospheric theatres he built. Perhaps he is one of the spirits that have been spotted walking around or sitting in seat 308. When it opened on Friday, October 15th, 1926 who knew that such a glorious palace would one day become one of Tampa’s most notoriously known paranormal dwellings.
So whether you are interested in seeing for yourself if the stories of the beautiful and glorious historic Tampa theatre are true, or even if you want to debunk the rumors you still have to try it out for yourself.
Wait, Tampa Theatre gets even spookier…
The first projectionist at the theatre was a man named Foster, “Fink” Finley. This gentleman started working there in the 1940s until he died from a heart attack in 1965 while at work. He was known to be a heavy chain-smoker. Smoking has been banned from the theatre for many years, yet people sitting in the back two rows of the balcony, nearest to the projection booth will still smell the smoke from his cigarette. Workers have seen the cloud of smoke in the air in the projection booth. Many feel that Foster has never left the building and is still in the projection booth.
The Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre organ also plays a frightening part of the current hauntings. Rosa Rio, the former organist that played the 1,400 pipe instrument to accompany the silent film era passed in 2010 at the age of 107. On evenings when the guests leave the theatre but the staff is still present, they claim to hear Rosa playing the organ. She is very protective and attached to the instrument. One evening when the manager went back into the orchestra pit and lost her footing and almost fell on top of the antique organ, Rosa pushed her to divert her fall and protect the organ.
One of my favorites is the mysterious man that sits in seat 308 and that has been captured on film. He wears a hat and jacket resembling the 20’s time period. I wonder is it a ghost of someone that worked there, built the theatre or was it a patron that loved being in this beautiful and opulent palace? He has been caught on film and has been seen by some of the patrons.
The Lady in White
There is also the Lady in White that has been observed pacing backstage in a nervous manner. It makes one wonder what she was going through to make her behave so anxiously even in death, peace seems to elude her in the beyond.
The Tampa Theatre is one of the most glamorous historical buildings with a rich history and one of the most renowned for paranormal activity.
Today you can spend the evening watching a newly released film, a classic film, live concerts, tours and a host of other events. This is one of Tampa’s largest preservation projects, and lucky for us this building was saved from demolition plans.
Whether you are a believer in the paranormal or if you just want to have a spooky experience, next night out give the Tampa Theatre a try.
I for one would love to step into the elegance, opulence and glamour of this theatre and be magically transported back into the 1920s.