Robdendon Corporation opened this movie theater to the public as a Wometco first-run-house on December 1926. On October 3, 1931, after extensive remodeling under the leadership of Robert Law Weed, the theater re-opened its doors. The exterior was developed in an Art Deco style with a prominent 40-foot steel tower that quickly became a neighborhood landmark. The Theater was a member of Wolfson-Meyer Theatrical Enterprises of Miami.
During the late fifties and throughout the sixties, large numbers of Cuban refugees fled to Miami. The area surrounding S.W. Eighth Street – “Calle Ocho” – became a place of new beginnings. For many Cuban families, films at the Tower Theater were an introduction to American culture in addition to pure entertainment. Soon the Tower Theater altered its programming to include English-language films with Spanish subtitles, and eventually Spanish-language films. However, after almost sixty years of operation, the Tower Theater was closed to the public in 1984.
Following another remodeling in 2002, the Theater was turned over to Miami Dade College. Now proudly under the auspices of the Miami International Film Festival, MDC’s Tower Theater continues to serve as a historic gathering place for cultural connections in Little Havana, where the community can enjoy alternative and culturally specific exhibitions and performances, free educational lectures given by MDC faculty and other scholars in our community, and both Spanish-language films and English-language films, subtitled in Spanish.
In 2011, USA Today declared MDC’s Tower Theater “one of the 10 great places to see a movie in splendor” in the newspaper’s round-up of the best old-fashioned movie palaces in America.