These days, things like sound, air conditioning, fire safety equipment and emergency exits are a given at most every movie theater. In the late 1920s when the DeSoto opened on Broad Street, all of those amenities were literally things to gawk at.
As the South’s first facility built specifically for “talking pictures,” the facility has been serving the Rome community for nearly a century and the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation plans to “party like it’s 1929” Monday.
“The DeSoto Theatre has touched countless lives over generations, and we want to honor that,” HDTF Board President David Clonts said in a release. “Our grandparents watched some of the first films there. Some of us remember seeing blockbuster hits such as ‘JAWS’ or ‘Star Wars’ on that screen, or have attended concerts. Today, many associate the DeSoto with the wonderful theater productions that grace the stage.”
On Monday, members of the public are invited to gather at the front of the theater, 530 Broad St., to recapture a historic image taken in 1939 of the crowd waiting to enter the DeSoto to see “Gone with the Wind.”
Those who would like to appear in the photo are asked to gather at the theatre at 5 p.m.
“This is a free event, and we invite as many people as possible to come celebrate the legacy of the Historic DeSoto Theatre,” Powell.
Following the photo recreation, a sneak peek of the locally shot independent film, “Tate’s Hell,” written and directed by Rome International Film Festival Executive Director Seth Ingram, will be screened to celebrate the theater’s film heritage.
In order to continue the public’s loyal patronage of the Broad Street icon, organizers had several events planned centered around the 90th anniversary, including a 90th birthday party and tours held this past Saturday of the mostly renovated building.
According to foundation members, more renovations are needed to fully restore the landmark.
“The purpose of the Historic DeSoto Theatre Foundation is to protect the integrity of the building and restore the theater to its original glory because it’s an important part of our local heritage,” said Powell. “We’re getting there, but there is still much to be done.”
“There have been numerous great forms of visual art that have happened under the DeSoto’s roof for 90 years,” Powell said. “This is a proud moment for our region, so let’s honor that as a community.”