The Arcade Theatre, a favorite meeting place for residents and visitors alike for over 90 years, was built in 1908 and exhibits all the charm and grandeur of early Florida. It served originally as a Vaudeville house and was the very auditorium that Fort Myers resident Thomas Edison sat in to view his first films, along with his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
The Arcade was eventually converted into a full movie house, with a wall dividing the great proscenium stage to form two screening rooms. By 1989, the theatre had fallen into severe disrepair. In 1991, a benefit starring famed ballet and film star, Mikhail Baryshnikov, raised enough money to completely restore the Arcade and The City of Fort Myers rented the facility out to local organizations. In 1998, thanks to the generosity and vision of the City of Fort Myers, the Arcade became the permanent home of the Florida Repertory Theatre.
After nine season, Florida Rep has breathed new life into the Historic Arcade Theatre with Live Theatre, and as Florida Rep opens its 10th Anniversary Season, the Rep and its home, the Arcade Theatre, are fixtures in the newly-developing River District.