Port Theatre Blog

The Port Theatre Will Open Again


Contact: Natalie Shoaf
Photos available upon request
Press Release



Dreams do come true! Residents of Gulf County have longed for the day the Historic Port Theatre would again open its doors. Locals still reminisce about watching movies or recalling their sweetheart’s first kiss at the theatre. Donnie Beasley recalls seeing a double feature with his mother in 1940: “Frankenstein” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Donnie confessed he “ didn’t sleep all night!”.  This dream began to emerge into reality last week with the acquisition of the theatre by a local nonprofit group.

In June 1938, The Port Theatre opened for it first movie presentation and continued as a landmark and family-fun location until it closed around 1967. Since then, the building has fallen into disrepair, battered by time and hurricanes and has remained closed and unattended for over 48 years except for a short time when it functioned as an auction house.

In June 2003, The Port Theater was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Art Deco Style treatment of the façade is largely intact and still maintains a distinct and significant presence on the main commercial thoroughfare of Port St Joe. According to the United States Department of the Interior, the acoustics “within the three-story auditorium space is exceptional”.

Over the past six years, a group dedicated to the revitalization of the theatre has worked diligently to bring it back to the community. This small group of volunteers created a 501c3 nonprofit organization, The Port Theatre Art & Cultural Center (PTACC), which is dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of this local treasure and historic resource.

The dedication of these few have made the dreams of many come true—as of last week, the theatre is owned by the PTACC. The purchase was funded through an acquisition grant by The State of Florida, Division of Historic Resources, with additional assistance by The Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency. The Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition (Forgotten Coast Plein Air) and

Capital City Bank awarded grants early on to assist with the creation of the nonprofit. Other individuals and organizations have stepped up with in-kind donations and financial support to make this happen: Tom Gibson of Rish Gibson Scholz P.A., Ralph Roberson and Michael McKenzie of Roberson and Associates, Matt Terry at Appraisal Group of North Florida, Shaun Donahue at Shaun Donahue Realty, Jay Rish and Natalie Shoaf, Gulf Coast Real Estate Group LLC, Tapper Foundation, Victor Ramos Photography and Sandi Yarbrought Photography. A debt of gratitude also goes out to former owner Harry Arnold for working with this non-profit to help make this acquisition happen for our community.

An ongoing outpour of support continues, and plans will begin in earnest. Architect Carter Quina of Quina Grundhoefer Architects, who specializes in historic preservation, is donating his services through conceptual design. The Board of Directors will continue to seek grants, in-kind assistance, corporate donations, and will organize a capital campaign. The renovation will be phased to open portions of the building as they are completed.

Now the love affair reignites between the theatre and the community! Help is needed in many areas. If you are interested in volunteering or donating or if you would like more information, please contact PTACC through their website, http://www.historicporttheatre.com, or email, HistoricPortTheatre@gmail.com.

Please reach out and share your memories. They would love to hear from you!

Posted Tuesday, 11/17/15, 10:57 AM - Comments - Category: Press Releases


Comment by tony meadors on December 16, 2016 - 10:17 AM

It's been a year since this wonderful announcement. How about an update? I can imagine a picture or two, a timetable, and an address one might send donations to might keep everyone excited and in the loop. Sincerely, AEM

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