Eighteen days ago, we closed the Tampa Theatre for 45 days to do a massive renovation to the lobby, auditorium and basements. Red seats will be replaced with the original earth tone chocolate per the original architect’s design. Lighting and painting will be restored and a new concessions area will be built. This work is to ensure future generations will get to enjoy one of only a few historic movie palaces left in the world. We are experts with this type of planning, however there is one aspect with which we are amateurs.
I admit that we do not quite know how to build for the paranormal.
The Tampa Theatre is one of the most haunted building in Tampa. Lucky for us, all of the (documented) spirits are friendly. From Fink Finley, who was a projectionist in the 1950’s to a strange man with a derby hat who sits in Row J, InVision is taking all necessary precautions to make sure that all of those who call the Theatre home in the afterlife stay friendly.
All of the features of the Theatre to remain are being carefully protected and with the seats removed, an eerie echo bounces through the space. The ghosts float freely across the open floor as contractors work to fill the old air conditioning returns that were under your seats and cut trenches for new wiring and air conditioning. The seats will be wider and more comfortable while replicating the original profile and seat ends. The spirits will feel right at home when we are done! A time lapse camera recently caught strange dust swirls in the area where Seat 308 used to be, the only seat that the man in the Derby hat was ever seen in. The actual seat now rests quietly in the office of the Director of Community Relations, or Head Ghost Girl as I like to call her. Jill Witecki has kept the spirits happy for many years in the Tampa Theatre and we are hopeful she will continue to give her Ghost Tours paying homage to those that watched movies before us. If you ever have the chance, the Ghost Tour that Jill hosts is well worth your while.
The keys of the Joe the Facilities Manager circa 1940’s (R.I.P.) can regularly be heard in the lobby overlooking the concessions area close to the House Manager’s office. They are quiet lately as the concessions counter is being replaced and all of the interior is undergoing restoration. I would use this opportunity to take a “spiritual vacation” as well if I were a ghost. Good for you Joe! We look forward to hearing your keys jingle when the Tampa Theatre opens again soon.
Historic Restoration is complicated and is made even more interesting when the history still lives in the space! InVision Advisors worked with the Theatre, architects, contractors, restoration artists and vendors to carefully plan every day of this closure. The Tampa Theatre is a treasure and should continue to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. This is only Phase One of a much more involved restoration coming in the future.
Please visit them at http://tampatheatre.org/ and most certainly in person at 711 N. Franklin St. Tell Fink I said hello.
InVision Advisors are Design and Construction Strategists who provide leadership to groups who don’t have the knowledge or time to properly manage the design and construction process.
Good luck and keep your hard hat tight.