Historic REX Theatre Enjoys Its Next Curtain Call

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 6:01 PMUpdated: Feb 19, 2018 6:28 PM
In 2014 crews began a $2 million renovation of the historic REX Theatre at 18 N. Palafox Street in downtown Pensacola. The theatre, believed to be Florida's earliest Art Deco-style theatre, had lain gutted, vacant and empty for nearly 30 years. Now it's a vibrant 400-seat theatre that serves as a home to Generation Church and a venue for community theatre, seminars and other events.

The REX, a few doors north of Garden Street, got its start in 1910 as Rhodes Futch Collins Furniture Store, offering the largest showroom in the Pensacola area. After the furniture store changed locations, the structure was converted into a movie theater in the 1930s, operating for several decades before closing in 1977. The REX then went through a succession of owners before Generation acquired it in 2012.

Renovating the historic building created work for an estimated 175 construction workers, along with fabricators, suppliers and other vendors. But the project meant a lot more than just work, said Bill Greenhut, president of Greenhut Construction, the lead construction company. “This is the type of project that you can look at in years to come and feel a sense of pride that you played a part,” said Greenhut in a letter to the architects. “...projects such as this are extremely rewarding because they have a large impact on the quality of life in our community. The users and patrons of the facility have a tangible and emotional interest in its future, and that personal investment makes the successful outcome even more satisfying.”

The REX is particularly known for its Art Deco façade and memorable connections to Pensacola residents and visitors who attended movies there for decades. Now the outside reflects its heritage, while the inside has been modernized to ensure it's ADA compliant and energy-efficient.

PHOTO: Rhodes Futch Collins Furniture Store. 192-. [State Archives of Florida]