The Byron Carlyle Theater is a cultural and historical landmark in the North Beach area of Miami Beach. It was designed by famous MiMo architect A. Herbert Mathes, and residents have fond memories of all the movies they got to see there. Shown are some archival photographs we found of the theatre’s past.
Initially opened as the Wometco Byron Carlyle Twin Theaters in 1968, the premiere movie was “Skidoo”, which featured Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing and Frankie Avalon. At the opening there was a historic wall plaque presented by Jackie Gleason as part of the theater’s dedication. Also shown is an ad, courtesy of Micky Wolfson’s archives, for the new Wometco Theatre with a sleek automobile boasting about the ample parking spaces surrounding it.
A 1969 article from The Modern Theatre Section Magazine entitled “Byron/Carlyle” describes the facade of the building as having lush beige marble and with an “especially designed plastic collage, in muted shades of all nature’s colors, depicting the islands of Miami Beach in sharp bas-relief…the walls of the larger theatre, the Carlyle (993 seats) are covered with a deep moss green fabric, that is not only permanently flame-proofed, but is also hypo-allergenic and decay resistant…The Byron, seating 590 patrons is an alternating red and black pattern, and is completely wall-draped in a luxurious lip-stick red fabric.”
Years later, the theatre would be celebrating its 45th anniversary run by the O Cinema Group, which showed award winning independent and foreign films seven days a week. As one of the only culture inspiring venues in North Beach, the residents treasured its presence in their neighborhood. Since the City of Miami Beach acquired it in 2002, it has engaged in “demolition by neglect.” Even though residents repeatedly express the wish for renovation, redesign, and redevelopment as a PUBLIC cutting edge cultural, civic and performance, stand-alone space, the City plans to give it away for free to developers to demolish it and build yet another high rise condo building.
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