The first 50 years of the Dixie Theatre

The Dixie Theatre circa 1952 Eunice Proctor Count was the ticket agent; Voncile McLeod stands next t

The Dixie Theatre circa 1952 Eunice Proctor Counts was the ticket agent; Voncile McLeod stands next to the booth. Evelyn Bobb is the waitress seen through the window of the Louis Cafe.

Florida Memory Project
Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 08:27 AM.

On April 4, the Dixie Theatre will celebrate the centennial anniversary of its grand opening.

In 1905, Alex Fortunas, a sponge fisherman, immigrated to the US from Trikkeri, Greece through Ellis Island in New York. The enterprising young man first moved to Tarpon Springs, where he entered the theatre business with capital earned by sponge diving and founded the Southern Amusement Company.

Around 1912, when Tarpon Springs’ economy faltered due to overfishing of sponges, Fortunas moved to Apalachicola where the sponge industry reached its peak in the first decade of the 20th century.

He opened a successful seafood house and with capital from it, Fortunas ordered the construction of a new theatre on property adjacent to the Flatauer-Wakefield Hardware Company on Avenue E; then called Chestnut Street.

The Dixie Theatre, described by the Apalachicola Times as “one of the prettiest in the state,” was a modern marvel with an aluminum and silver curtain to act as a movie screen and a proscenium stage for live performances. A projection booth at the front of the balcony was furnished with a Powers Cameragraph, an early 35 mm projector. There was an orchestra pit in front of the stage.

There were two 16’x16’ shops flanking the ticket office. To the left was a barbershop leased by Jenkins and O’Rourke and to the right a cigar and candy stand owned by W.G. Sharit that provided snacks for theatergoers.

The theatre had electric lights. The front of the building displayed 15 large white lights and 100 colored light bulbs. Inside strings of lights served the seating area and the stage had adjustable lighting.

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