desoto marquee

History tours, cake and ice cream, film screenings, previews and clips, a historic photo recreation, and an open house celebrate the DeSotos Theatre’s 90th year anniversary.

In honor of the milestone of the theater’s opening on Aug. 5, 1929, the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation has announced several events to celebrate this historic 90th Anniversary Celebration.

“We’re excited to celebrate the longstanding life of this special place,” said HDTF president David Clonts. “The DeSoto turns 90, and we’re ready to ‘Party like it’s 1929.’ We also want to celebrate with the community — the past, the present and the future of the DeSoto Theatre.”

As part of an Open House during the festivities, guests will experience how the theater currently operates and benefits the community, and will get a glimpse into the exciting plans that the HDTF Board and supporters envision for the future of the DeSoto, Clonts said.

“We want generations to come to benefit from our continued efforts, as much as we have benefitted and enjoyed from what those before us did for the DeSoto.”

To kickoff the celebration on Aug. 3, the City of Rome’s 500 Block Downtown Walking Tour will highlight the DeSoto Theatre. The 10 a.m. tour will be given by Selena Tilly and will share the theater’s history. The DeSoto was built by O.C. Lam in 1929 as the first movie house in the southeast constructed specifically for “talkies,”or movies with sound.

The DeSoto Theatre will then host a Community Birthday Party with free cake and ice cream for all patrons attending the celebration beginning at 1 p.m., prior to the evening’s Downtown Block Party.

Members of the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation and Rome Little Theatre will provide “Behind the Scenes” tours of the theater from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for those interested in learning more about the theater’s operation and possibly getting involved in the organization’s events and shows.

Beginning at 3 p.m., a screening of the film “Mama Mia” will be offered.

The final event of the weekend’s 90th Anniversary celebration will be a photo re-creation of the opening of the DeSoto 90 years ago. Beginning at 5 p.m., patrons are asked to line up outside the theater for a photo recreation of the Rome News-Tribune photograph at the theater’s first screening of “Gone With the Wind.”

Following the photograph re-creation, patrons are invited inside the theater for refreshments and a brief ceremony by City of Rome officials and HDTF Board members and supporters.

After the ceremony, attendees can watch a short clip of the first movie ever shown at the DeSoto, the “talkie” The Rainbow Man, the highlight of the DeSoto’s opening day in 1929. The theater has remained in continued operations since that day.

The evening will conclude with a sneak preview of “Tate’s Hell,” a film by local film producer and director Seth Ingram. Ingram also serves as Executive Director of the Rome International Film Festival, which has called the DeSoto Theatre home for many years.

All events are free to the public. Donations are encouraged and will be accepted. All proceeds will benefit the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation.