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Get to Know the Story Behind DeLand’s Historic Athens Theatre

Every time prospective homebuyers start exploring homes for sale in DeLand, they all have the same question: what’s the story of DeLand’s Historic Athens Theatre?

In honor of the Athens Theatre’s 100th anniversary, here is some brief history on this historic landmark.

The Athens Theatre in the 1920s

In the early 20th century, the Athens Theatre was DeLand’s centerpiece for arts, culture, and society. This piece of DeLand real estate was designed to pay tribute to beautiful Italian Renaissance architecture.

The Athens Theatre was opened on January 6th, 1922. Its grand opening was a lively event featuring a movie, theatrical performances, and vaudeville acts.

Although initially designed to be a silent movie palace and vaudeville house, the Athens Theatre also hosted traveling performers and live stage shows.

More than Just a Theatre

The Athens Theatre was much more than just a theater. It offered the community a place to gather and find refuge from the mental and emotional torments of the Great Depression.

During the Depression, shows and acts at the Athens Theatre were the only form of entertainment many DeLand residents could afford. The owners of the Athens Theatre, the DeLand Amusement Corporation, only charged children nine cents for entry so they wouldn’t have to pay the state’s entertainment tax.

Later, they partnered with RC Cola to allow patrons free entry as long as they had six RC bottle caps.

The Athens Theatre from the 1950s to 1990s

As time went on, the Athens Theatre continued to evolve to meet the growing demands of social entertainment.

During the latter half of the 20th century, the Athens Theatre essentially went from a lively vaudeville theater to a local movie house. At times, it hosted prom parties and community theater productions. Other times, it functioned as a dinner theater or teen nightspot.

Gatherings beneath its weathered roof included videogame rooms, pizza, beer, movie nights, and more.

The Athens Theatre witnessed the love stories of countless DeLand-area residents, from first dates to first kisses to midnight matinees following the high school prom.

In the 1950s, the building was renovated. This renovation proved to be a nail in the coffin of the Athens Theatre’s golden era as it began to deteriorate soon after.

In the early 1990s, the Athens Theatre was closed.

Revival

In 1993, the DeLand community witnessed a revival of sorts. More and more homes for sale in DeLand were popping up as young families began moving into the area.

The MainStreet DeLand Association led the effort to pay tribute to DeLand’s history by restoring the Athens Theatre to its former splendor. In 2009, the Athens Theatre was able to re-open its doors, beckoning in the crowds to behold its original, historic glory.

The Athens Theatre Today

Today, the Athens Theatre remains a keystone of community life in DeLand. Featuring live theatrical productions, drama workshops, summer camps, movies, dance performances, and live concerts, the Athens Theatre is once again an integral part of DeLand’s social and community life. Whether you live in Deland or just visiting, the Athens Theatre is a great spot to visit to get a taste of the local history Deland has to offer.