Renovations for the Seminole Theatre started with a bang…literally! A confetti canon and banner reveal kicked off the renovations to the Historic Seminole Theatre on Monday, May 11, 2015. The renovation of the Seminole Theatre as a multi-purpose cultural center is part of the overall revitalization of Downtown Homestead—a plan to boost economic, cultural, and community life.
Attendees at the kick off ceremony in Losner Park included Homestead’s Mayor and City Council, alongside City Staff and members of the community. Ruth Campbell, Director of the Old Town Hall Museum, led the Pledge of Allegiance and Dr. Linda Fagan, Chairwoman of the Seminole Theatre Cultural Arts Center, shared moving words about her efforts to bring the community together to realize the dream of a revitalized Seminole Theatre. Also at the event were representatives from the project contractor, Munilla Construction Management, and the project architect, designel, llc.
“We are a Council that believes in the future of Downtown Homestead and came together with support from the community to make the future start now. The Seminole Theatre embodies our efforts to revitalize Downtown Homestead by developing a space where local and visiting talent can have a showcase and where residents can enjoy a richer cultural life,” said Mayor Porter before leading the countdown to unveil a giant “Under Construction” banner. The banner, which now hangs from the side of the Seminole Theatre, reads: “Restoring our History, Building our Future.”
During the ceremony, Homestead’s City Manager, George Gretsas elaborated on this theme: “In the past, Downtown Homestead was a thriving city center, where the community truly came together. Our goal is to bring everyone together again, and create a real community in Downtown Homestead.”
Mr. Gretsas also took the opportunity to announce a special surprise: Bronwen Rutter, member of the Seminole Theater Board, will kindly donate a Steinway & Sons Piano, worth fifteen thousand dollars, to be utilized in the theater. When she stumbled upon the coveted instrument, she felt it was necessary to give it a home in the renovated Seminole Theater, where it will fill the space with music for years to come. As a musician herself, Ms. Rutter took the stage to express her feelings of excitement about the future of the historic theater and Downtown Homestead.
Funding for the Seminole Theatre renovation was provided thanks to massive voter approval in the May 2014 Special Election. The majority of Homestead voters, 64%, voted in favor of the $5 million Bond to renovate the Historic Seminole Theatre as a cultural center.
The historic structure, originally built in 1921, was first restored in 1940 with the iconic Art Deco façade. The theatre was mainly used as a movie house until it closed its doors in 1979. In 1992, it suffered a near total loss as a result of Hurricane Andrew. Since then, it has undergone an exterior renovation and expansion of space with the addition of a north wing and a south building. The current project will focus mainly on interior renovations.
The cultural center will host a variety of events from conventions and meetings to film festivals and concerts. It will also provide space for community artists to teach music, dance, photography, and art as well as providing space for community college students to take performing art classes. The revitalized Seminole Theatre will provide Homestead-area families and youth with a much-needed public arts and educational facility for weekend, after-school, and summertime enrichment activities.