Arcade Theater

30 E. Flagler Street,
Miami, FL 33131

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Kelly's Theater

Nearby Theaters

Area of The Arcade and Air Dome in 1910's next to Burdine's/Macy's

In a chapter entitled “Development of Miami’s Theaters” of the book “Historical Sketches And Sidelights Of Miami, Florida” printed in 1925, local author Isidor Cohen writes:

“The year 1906 marks the advent of Miami’s motion-picture shows… The first movie theater was opened by a Mr. Kelly, in the ‘Hatchet’ building, on East Flagler Street, between Miami Avenue and 1st Avenue.”

So Kelly’s Theater, as it has been called, was Miami’s first cinema.

One year later, as Mr. Cohen describes, Mr. Kelly “added vaudeville features to his one-reel movie show” and drove out of business an “improvised theater … known as the ‘Alcazar’” that had appeared nearby “in the east storeroom of the ‘Daniel’ block, on East Flagler Street near 1st Avenue”.

About a year after that “a real theater was built for Mr. Kelly, which was located on West Flagler Street…”, to which he apparently relocated.

“In 1912 Captain Frank Jaudon and his youngest brother, the late Ivan Jaudon, reopened the theater in the ‘Hatchet’ building, which they named Arcade Theater This firm later built an airdome on the adjoining lot where now stands the Kress building”.

This Air Dome therefore (there were others with that name at 174 East Flagler Street), and maybe The Arcade as well, must have been gone by 1925 when this history was published.

A photo that appears in the article “Miami Avenue & Flagler Street in 1913” on the Miami-History website shows the Burdines department store building in the background, which today still stands as Macy’s, and the Air Dome in the foreground to the east of it. The article then states, “Other businesses… [in] the photo within view include the Hatchet Building, Arcade Theater…”, so the Hatchet Building that Isidor Cohen says housed Mr. Kelly’s/Arcade Theatre must have been to the east of Burdines/Macy’s.

In 2017 the space where this Air Dome was has been a vacant lot since the most recent building there was demolished in 2008. An article on a real estate news website regarding the next building to the east of the empty space says that building was constructed in 1934, so the Hatchet Building must be gone as well, regardless of where it exactly was in the historic photo.

Contributed by David_Schneider

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

David_Schneider on February 10, 2017 at 8:46 am

Check out the complete text of the “Development of Miami’s Theaters” chapter of Isidor Cohen’s book.

There are a few more theatres in there that came and went that are not listed on Cinema Treasures but there might not be much information about them outside of being mentioned therein.

I enjoy the part that says, after Kelly’s Theatre drove the Alcazar out of business, “Noting the victor’s apparent prosperity, one of our pioneer boys, Henry Chase (recently elected sheriff of Dade County), opened a movie theater in an old shack which stood on North First Avenue, where now stands the First Trust and Savings Bank building. That caricature of a theater served as a retreat for somnambulists and victims of insomnia.”

Here’s a link to the article “Miami Avenue & Flagler Street in 1913” on the website.

Compare the historic photo to the present day Street View image for a look at now versus the 1910’s, with the Burdine’s/Macy’s building still present.

Cinema Treasures page for the other Air Domes.

An article in the January 27, 1975 issue of Box Office: “Nickel Shows, Live Music, Tents: Miami’s Early Film Days Recalled”

David_Schneider on February 11, 2017 at 8:44 am

Mr. Cohen’s phrasing seems to indicate the actual name was “The Arcade”.

Cinema Treasures changed my use of the words The Arcade in my original submission to Arcade Theater before posting and explained:

On the site we don’t use the word ‘The’ as part of theatre names as there would be possibly hundreds of ‘The’s’ and to find The Arcade when doing a search would be neigh impossible. Most people would search for Arcade, as theatres are listed alphabetically.

remkoolhaas on January 5, 2019 at 7:22 pm

Dear Theater & Film Friends,

My name is Matthew Glass and I am in the midst of writing a book called “Images of America: Historic Miami Theaters” it will be published by Arcadia Publishing /The History Press. It is a tribute to historic film and theater houses and even more to Miami.

I am writing to request pictures you might have of any older theater structures in your collection. The images can be black & white, color, with family or friends or shots of various parts of the Theaters. The books covers these spaces from 1880 to the present. I have many images but I still am missing some pictures of several Theaters.

The The Miami Hurricane of 1926 destroyed so much.

I am also looking to firm up the cover in the next week or so. You might have it sitting in your photo album now. You will be fully credited, acknowledged and receive a free copy of the book if the image can be used.

Aye, here’s the rub! The images, if digital have to be a 2400 dpi x any dimension in order to meet the publishing house specifications.

So here is how you can help:

 1. Email me any images you might have that meet these specifications. 
                   2. Scan the original at 1200 or higher dpi and email me the image. 
                   3. Mail me the image and I’ll scan it appropriately and I’ll  send it back in perfect 
                       condition in February when I submit the final proof. 

Don’t freak, If you have any questions on how to scan , you may email me or call and I’ll talk you through the scanning process. I just ask that you submit the year, photographer or collection it came from.

If it can be used, I’ll send a simple photo release paper for you to sign.

I am looking especially for interiors, and images of the following theaters: WIGWAM, PARAMOUNT, STATE, KELLEY, SHERIDAN, FLAMINGO, CARIB, BEACH, MIRACLE, MINI ART, GABLES TRIPLE, ROOSEVELT, RITZ, ESSEX, and BILTMORE, to name a few of the 273 theaters we have had since the minstrel shows of the 1800’s.

This is a scholarly publication. I am requesting nonexclusive world rights in English for this volume only. I wont be getting it rich as half the proceeds will go back to South Florida Theaters. I make 2 dollars a book sold, and a portion is going back into Miami Theater Non Profits.

Thank You Kindly,
Matthew Glass

P.S. I am including marine stadiums, sporting arenas, music halls, supper clubs, out door venues, concert hall too. . Sadly I have very little on “blacks only”, yiddish and spaces by the indigenous tribes that Flagler discovered.

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Glass

JackCoursey on January 15, 2023 at 6:51 pm

There was also an Arcade Theatre operating in east Havana during this time period.

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