If you haven’t noticed, the Cameo Theater at 1013 East Colonial Drive has been restored and is the new home of the Snap! Orlando Photography Gallery. It also just received the AIA Florida 2015 Honor Award for Historic Preservation/Restoration.
Originally opened as a single-screen movie house in 1940, Orlando’s Cameo Theater functioned for only a few years, until closing after World War II. Shortly thereafter IBM renovated the structure by inserting a second floor in the open volume of the interior to create office space. Since then, a series of uses ranging from office, a live music venue and a church have occupied this address. The interiors of the movie house were erased long ago when the second floor was inserted. Coupled with neglect, each one of these uses also made subtle modifications to the façade which eventually diluted the memory of what once occupied this site.
In 2012 the architect, Wes Featherstone of Process Architecture, and the new owner formulated a plan to renovate the building and take advantage of a City of Orlando facade improvement grant program, providing additional funds to restore the façade and the original lighted iconic sign at the building’s parapet.
News of the owner’s and architect’s research into the building’s history made the local papers which inspired several members of the community to assist in locating original photography of the building façade, something that was thought to be lost with time.
These recovered images revealing the original sign at the top of the parapet, allowed the restoration team to replicate it, as well as confirm the original art deco details on the façade to restore.
With a large storefront presence, and an undivided floor plan on the ground floor, the museum quality gallery space now features renowned photographers from all over the world, drawing pedestrians in off the street. The flanking courtyard and back alley have been improved for added event space, culturally enriching the offerings of this popular night life district. The second floor functions as office space, which is the home of a national music management group for recording artists.
Reviving one of only a few, rare art deco buildings in Orlando, this renovation has restored an important piece of our architectural heritage.
Check out this link to Snap! Orlando for upcoming events:
And this link to Process Architecture’s Website for more of their work: