MDC's Tower Theater Miami

Miami Dade College

Miami's most beloved cinema theater

Miami Dade College's historic Tower Theater is one of the city's crown jewels. Located alongside Domino Park in Little Havana, the theater was built in 1926 in a Mediterranean Revival architectural style.

Its first offering was the silent romantic comedy, The Palm Beach Girl.

In 1931, the theater underwent transformation to the Art Deco style of architecture.

Due to the large influx of Cuban exiles in the 1960's, Tower Theater Miami began to add Spanish subtitles to its movies.

Some in the Cuban exile community attest to the theater's significance, claiming it helped them learn English and helped them acculturate.

Soon the theater altered its programming to include English-language films with Spanish subtitles, and eventually Spanish-language films.

The film La Cuba de Ayer premiered at the Tower Theater in 1963. Television footage from that night depict Cuban exiles in attendance.

The theater became known for hosting special events such as this one.

Teatro Tower as it was known in Spanish, closed its doors in 1984.

Over the next 20 years, it was sold twice: once in 1987 as part of the Latin Quarter Specialty Center and again in 1991 to the City of Miami.

In 2002, the City of Miami authorized Miami Dade College to manager the theater's operations.

Tower Theater, Miami Dade College, 2017-09-22, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College's Tower Theater is one of the four oldest theaters still standing in Miami.

In 1992, the theater was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Entrance to the Tower Theater (2), Miami Dade College, 2017-09-21, From the collection of: Miami Dade College
Dr. Paul George, Resident Historian at HistoryMiami, talks about the impact of Tower Theater.
Audience Participation at the Tower Theater, Miami Dade College, 2017-09-21, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

In 2011, USA Today declared MDC's Tower Theater "one of the 10 great places to see a movie in splendor" in the newspaper's round-up of the best old-fashioned movie palaces in America.

Dr. George speaks on Tower Theaters's importance in the community.
Marquee Sign of The Apostate and Double 9, Miami Dade College, 2016-03-09, From the collection of: Miami Dade College
Dr. George discussed the evolution of Tower Theater under the helm of Miami Dade College.
GEMS 2017 Opening_075, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

Tower Theater Miami is one of the most unique cultural centers in Florida.

In many ways, it’s more than just a movie theater. It also doubles as a community center.

It’s at the core of a vibrant and multilingual community that is Little Havana.

GEMS 2017 Opening_145, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

A historic landmark, Tower Theater Miami brings a respite from the ongoing glare of a phone or computer screen while treating moviegoers to unique cultural experiences on the screen and beyond.

Film still moves people to their core and this iconic setting gives audiences the opportunity to enjoy cinema in its true splendor with carefully curated movies.

Performance at the Premiere of Our Little Sister, Miami Dade College, 2016-08-12, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

The movie house offers national and international premiers, chats with filmmakers and other film-related events, including meeting acclaimed actors, directors, producers and writers.

Poet Oscar Fuentes at GEMS, Miami Dade College, 2015-10-24, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

The Tower hosts several film festivals, including GEMS, French Film Festival, and the acclaimed Miami Film Festival. It is also the venue for Miami Film Society’s monthly screenings.

VR Escape presented in conjuction with MAGIC, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

Tower Theater Miami also offers thrilling experiences such as VR Escape, a highly sensorial virtual reality exhibition presented in partnership with MDC’s MAGIC (Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex).

Juan Pablo Raba, Kate del Castillo, Don Francisco, Patricia Riggen, Rodrigo Santoro. The 33 at Tower Theater presented at GEMS on October 25, 2015., Miami Dade College, 2015-10-25, From the collection of: Miami Dade College

Tower Theater Miami plays a pivotal role in the community by hosting local non-profits’ events, culturally specific exhibitions and performances, and free educational lectures.

The Tower is thought of as the “big box retailer” for Little Havana. Tower Theater patrons regularly patronize the shops and restaurants in the surrounding area, helping support the local economy.

Miami Dade College's Tower Theater
Credits: Story

- Miami Dade College Cultural Affairs Department
- Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives

Special thanks to:
Dr. Paul S. George. Professor, History,
Miami Dade College Department of Social Sciences.
Resident Historian, HistoryMiami.

Credits: All media
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