DeSoto Theatre opens its doors
On August 5, 1929, the DeSoto Theatre opened its doors to the public, the first theatre built for “talkies” in the south. O.C. Lam, owner of Lam Amusement Company, modeled it after the luxurious Roxy Theatre and equipped it with the most modern conveniences at the time at a cost of over $100,000. “The Rainbow Man” was the first movie shown.
Renovation: Art Deco marquee and concessions lounge added
The DeSoto undergoes it’s first major renovation. It adds the current Art Deco marquee and auditorium wall paintings, plus concessions lounge and bathrooms in the popular Art Deco style.
DeSoto closes as movie theatre, becomes home for Rome Little Theatre.
Rome’s oldest community theatre troupe purchased the DeSoto and converted it into a performance venue equipped with a stage, an orchestra pit, and new seating. RLT’s first play here was “The Sound of Music.”
Historic Desoto Theatre Foundation is established
Rome Little Theatre deeds the DeSoto to the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation to preserve and maintain the building.
HDTF establishes partnership with Fox Theatre Institute, restores vestibule
Atlanta’s Fox Theatre Institute selects the DeSoto to be one of the first theaters in Georgia to receive restoration and revitalization aid, serving as a catalyst for additional renovations.
Roof and Facade repair project
Before any interior renovations could begin, the DeSoto had already received a new roof. The facade and the outside lobby followed the interior vestibule’s renovation, with the outside lobby going back to it’s original rich colors and the facade to it’s original white of 1929.
Lightning starts fire, threatens DeSoto
Lighning strikes a post in the back of the DeSoto, causing an electrical fire that could have engulfed the building.
DeSoto renovation, Part 1: New seats for 500, bathrooms, lounges, auditorium, carpet
Over $350,000 project renovates auditorium with historically-accurate seats for 500, adds marble bathrooms, travertine-floor lounge and concessions area, Art Deco period fixtures, custom-made burgundy carpet. The Jewel of Broad Street is reborn.
HDTF solidifies partnership with 7 Hills Fellowship
HDTF signs 10-year lease with 7 Hills Fellowship to continue Sunday morning services at the DeSoto, as it had done during the previous five years. & Hills Fellowship also invested over $700,000 purchasing the building adjacent to the DeSoto for offices and meeting space.
DeSoto Renovation, Part 2: Concessions Counter, Catering Kitchen
A concessions counter in the Art-Deco style and a catering kitchen were added, to be used for events and community rentals.
Second fire threatens the DeSoto
Electrical fire in decayed conduit damages all wiring in brand-new concessions lounge.
Opera Star Jamie Barton performs at the DeSoto
A sold-out crowd welcomes Rome’s own diva back to the DeSoto for a world-class performance the evening after she opens the season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.
DeSoto Renovation, Part 3: Sound improvements, electrical projects
Custom-made sound panels improve the auditorium’s sound, and fire safety and electrical projects improve the building’s safety.
HDTF’s 10th Anniversary!
The Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation… …celebrates 10 years of being a champion for the DeSoto’s restoration. …gets ready for the theatre’s 90th year, in 1919, as the center of the arts in Rome. …plans the next ten years of improvements to 1929, the 100th Anniversary of the DeSoto Theatre. The foundation is committed to return the Jewel of Broad Street to its former splendor and world-class statue in Rome, Georgia, and beyond.