click to enlarge photo by Noeland Collins - NOELAND COLLINS
photo by Noeland Collins

Tampa Theatre´s New Marquee

The restoration of Tampa Theatre has been CEO John Bell´s ongoing labor of love for almost 20 years. From the smallest decorative detail to the grandest architectural flourish, he has insisted on quality and authenticity. In January, he unveiled his piece de resistance: gorgeous replicas of the original marquee and vertical ¨blade¨ sign. Although the new marquee uses modern electronics, it more closely resembles the look of the original light bulb system, which was replaced with aluminum letters in the 1950s. Now the marquee message can be changed in a manner of seconds by typing it on a computer keyboard instead of requiring Stage Manager Gary Ratliff to climb a ladder with an armload of letters like the old days. The original seven-story-high blade sign was removed in 1971 and never replaced until now. Thanks, John, for making downtown Tampa´s crown jewel whole again.

Tampa Theatre, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa, 813-274-8982,

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