A long time spectral employee is still being himself in a place he loved.
This theater was restored and renovated in the late 1970s, and is now run by the Arts Council of Tampa-Hillsborough Counties. It is currently used for a spectrum of events, including various theater, dance and musical productions. It was originally built in 1926, and designed by movie palace architect, the great John Eberson, to be a high class theater that had a unique set of embellishments and finery to impress and wow the movie-going public, that even included air conditioning.
The design of this beautiful theater is described as being “an eclectic blend of Italian Renaissance, Greek Revival and “Florida Mediterranean styles.” Gargoyles decorate the main lobby, which has a terrazzo floor. The interior is decorated by statues, terra-cottas, copper and brass jugs, detailed tapestries and banners, reproductions of paintings hang on the walls, dozens of gilt-edged mirrors highlight the decorations and atmosphere of the place. The large ceiling of the auditorium is a mass of blue sky and hundreds of twinkling stars. It originally had 10,000 light bulbs.
This large theater seats 1500 people, has a balcony, a stage, an orchestra pit and has a “Mighty Wurlitzer” organ. On the right organ grill, is a peacock figurine, which is John Eberson’s own trademark.
Foster Fink Finley is thought to be haunting this theater.
He was the dedicated projectionist who worked and practically lived there from 1930 through 1965, when he died of a heart attack in the projection booth, during a movie showing. As with many ghosts, he started to hang around the theater after it was renovated by the Arts Commission.
Occurrences in and around the theater’s projection booth — The projection room, located at the very top of the balcony is described as a dark and gloomy chamber, with just enough room for the huge 35 mm motion picture theater projectors, a couple of chairs and a workbench. A narrow passage way leads to the doors of this tiny room. Another door in the projection room opens into the room where the generator is kept. Projectionists can’t see this door without turning around.
Fink’s last projectionist partner that he had before he died, had come to work and went into the booth. As he started to close the door, something pulled back on the door, not letting him close it. So, he let go of the door to see who wanted to come in, thinking maybe his new partner had been following him. No one was there.
At the moment when the projectionists must watch the film closely for cues that tell them when to switch film projectors, they heard the door to the generator room open and close. They never saw it actually opening, but they heard the loud generator noise, which means the door was opened.
The power switch was once shut off, when no one was near it.
Other Incidents that have occurred:
A long time employee has reported that if you leave something in a specific place in the theater, it often is moved to someplace else in the theater, without the help of the living. His knife had mysteriously disappeared. After a few days of looking everywhere, he decided to test the theory that if you ask a ghost to return an item, they will. Standing in the balcony and looking down at the stage he asked that the knife be returned. When he turned around, he suddenly saw it on the carpet floor, leaning up against the wall near the projection booth.
While mopping the floor in the lobby, around midnight one evening, he was tapped on the shoulder about 5 times within 30 seconds. No one was there.
There is a staircase that comes down from the lobby and leads to the theater offices and bathrooms. Cold spots on this staircase have often been felt by the living. While coming out of the men’s restroom, this employee walked through a cold spot while going up the stairs and felt a sense of fear, like he had walked through some entity.
After locking up the theater one Sunday afternoon, he heard the sound of a chain being dragged across the terrazzo lobby floor, near the locked doors, where he was fussing around with his bike.
One Sunday afternoon, the box office manager, who was alone in the theater, was walking through the auditorium, when a door located inside the theater in front of her opened and shut like someone had just walked through it. She at first thought that an outside door had been opened causing an air vacuum which would have opened this inside door. However, all the other doors were chained and locked as they usually were at that time on a Sunday afternoon.
During a 1984 seance that was held in the main auditorium, a presence was strongly felt by all, and they felt someone watching him.
An apparition was briefly seen in the mirrors in front of the auditorium.
Faint music from a Bugs Bunny cartoon was heard in the lobby.
711 Franklin Street
Tampa, Florida 33602
“The South’s Most Beautiful Theater” — is located in Tampa, along the western coast of Florida, at the junction of I-4 and I-75.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr