Updated on July 11, 2023. The Florida Theatre will be closed from July to October for the next round of renovations in its Centennial Campaign, which started in 2019. (Photographed here are Former Mayor Lenny Curry, Florida Theatre President Numa Saisselin, and Florida Theatre Chair Leslie Gordon.) The Centennial Campaign was launched to prepare the historic Theatre for its 100th anniversary in 2027.
During the closure, the Florida Theatre will repair all the flaking and peeling decorative plaster in the auditorium, paint the lobbies and the auditorium with fidelity to the 1927 color palette, replace the entire heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, move the building’s electrical vault from the first to the third floor and update all the public restrooms.
These projects build upon projects that have already been accomplished at the Florida Theatre, which include replacing the Theatre’s 1,865 fixed seats, doubling the wheelchair seating capacity, installing a new assistive listening system for people who are hard of hearing, improving aisle lighting and handrails, especially in the balcony, installing a new concert sound system and lighting system and repurposing the second floor of the office building into the new Remedy Lounge; which was the first expansion of the venue’s public space in 95 years.
Auld and White is the general contractor for the project, and Sauer is doing the HVAC work. Clark Advisory Services is the Theatre’s representative, and the plaster/paint work is being done by EverGreene Studios, who drilled core samples to match the original color(s) of the Theatre.
Saul Lucio, who has been the Technical Director of the Florida Theatre for 40 years, said this is the most extensive work he has seen done at the Theatre (except the Remedy Lounge) since it reopened almost 40 years ago in 1983. “We have replaced the A/C and have painted the place before – but we have never done it all at once. This will be a huge undertaking,” said Lucio.
The City of Jacksonville has been an important partner in financing this endeavor, matching private donations dollar for dollar. The Florida Theatre’s Capital Campaign has been funded by 138 donors, and a restoration fee is assessed on all ticket sales.
“We want to make the building functionally better for how we use it today by improving it with 50-year solutions so we can be financially solvent for the next 100 years,” said Ed White of Auld & White Constructors, who is also a member of the Florida Theatre’s Capital Campaign Committee.
“By the end of this calendar year, over the last four years, we will have raised and spent $15 million on building improvements to the historic Florida Theatre,” said Numa Saisselin, President of the Florida Theatre. “After this, there’s about $8 million left of work to do to get the rest of the building where it needs to be, including expanding the entry lobby; a new artist hospitality space; dressing room improvements; marquee restorations; and administrative office improvements,” said Saisselin.
“I have been going to the Florida Theatre for years,” said Don Cameron, Florida Theatre First Vice Chair and Chair-Elect of the Board of Directors. “It has always been great, but this renovation will improve the intimate experience. Not only will the Theatre be restored to its original splendor, but it will also include the modern tech/sound system, social spaces (lobby, VIP lounge), and conveniences (new restrooms) that you would expect at a new venue. It will offer the best of both worlds – as it will be vintage and new. While still offering great entertainment at a great price.”
While the Florida Theatre is closed for renovations, it will continue to book and put great new shows on sale for the fall and have off-site events, member events, and more.