The landmark Colony Theatre at 1040 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach opened January 25, 1935, and was built for the Paramount chain. It was a superb example of the Art Deco style, and one of the city’s most well-known examples of that style of architecture. During World War II, Miami Beach became one of the largest centers and officer schools for soldiers. At the time, the Colony Theatre was used to show informative movies about health, training and news to the young GI’s. After the war, after decades serving as a movie house, the Colony Theatre was renovated to a performing arts venue making it into a 417 seat state of the art theatre.
In the 1960s, Architect, Morris Lapidus, remodeled all of Lincoln Road in the MIMO style of architecture, and the theatre went back to being a movie house, changing the entrance to the corner of Lenox Avenue. Samuel Kipnis purchased the theatre in 1971, and hosted the Greater Miami Educational Cultural Series, that supplied films from his private library.
In 1982, after coming into ownership of the City of Miami Beach, The Miami Beach Development Corporation put forth a proposal to the City to convert the Colony to a multi-use, cultural and activity center. The MDPL supported their proposal as a magnet to attract visitors and help in the revitalization of Lincoln Road. (See letter dated November 10, 1982 below.) The proposal was approved and the building received a complete restoration at approximately one million dollars.
Decades later, the building again underwent a three year, $6.5 million renovation through a grant from Save America’s Treasures. The original Art Deco grandeur was restored, while updating its stage and technical equipment. In October 2016, the theatre’s Artistic Director and his team received the keys to the renovated Colony building. They established their mission and future of the theatre to do work that is diverse, multicultural and multilingual, while at the same time having to do with issues in the community. It currently hosts plays, concerts, dance performances, operas, comedy acts and movie premieres.
Shown is a vintage black and white photograph of WWII military visiting the theater, vintage photo and theater ad courtesy of cinematreasures.org and a current day photo.