The Olympia Theater is a historic theater located in downtown Miami, Florida. It also known as the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.
The Olympia Theater
The Olympia Theater first opened in 1926. It was originally a silent movie palace that amazed audiences with many stunning features, including:
- Moorish architecture
- Excellent acoustics
- A unique “night sky” ceiling with stars and clouds
Maybe most notably, the theater was also known for being the first air-conditioned building in the South.
The Olympia Theater’s distinctive character was partly due to its architect, John Eberson. Eberson was known for his style of “atmospheric” design, and designed many notable theaters around the world.
The Olympia Theater is one of only a few Eberson theaters still remaining in the world today.
Many performances, including plays, concerts, and many others, have been held at the Olympia Theater over the years.
Some of the world’s greatest artists, including Elvis Presley, have performed at the theater.
Saving Olympia Theater
Although the theater was a cultural landmark early in its life, it was almost lost to history.
In 1975, South Florida businessman and philanthropist Maurice Gusman saved the aging theater from demolition and donated it to the City of Miami.
The complex was renamed in his honor as the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.
The Olympia Theater has undergone several renovations over the years.
In the 1970s, it was restored with the help of architect Morris Lapidus, who also designed other notable locations in Miami like the Fountainbleu Hotel.
In 1990, it underwent further major restoration work, with a focus on preserving Eberson’s original design scheme and using period-appropriate materials and furnishings, including wood and brass seats.
Today, the theater has been extensively restored and renovated, and it is used as a cultural and performance venue for various cultural performances
It is considered an important cultural landmark in the city and is at the heart of the action in downtown Miami.
The Olympia Theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.