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First opening in 1927 as the Riverside Theatre, the cinema was the first in the city equipped to screen films with sound. The original design of the building allowed it to be converted easily to accommodate live theatre, just in case this talking movies thing turned out to be a flash in the pan. It ultimately served as a movie theatre for the community only intermittently until the 1990s when it was converted to a nightclub.
Originally, the interior of the theater was Venetian and featured two decorative arched balconets, a wide frieze band, and prominent crown molding. On the center of the ceiling were ornamental plaster rosettes where two Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers hung costing $5,000 each. It was the first theater equipped to show talking pictures in Florida and the third nationally. They equipped the theater with a devise called the Vitaphone. The Vitaphone was developed by Western Electric in conjunction with Warner Brothers Pictures to synchronize sound and film. The first movie the theater debuted the Vitaphone with was the movie Don Juan featuring John Barrymore. To cover the cost of the Vitaphone admission went up from 25 cents to $1.10. Because of the increase, the theater did not draw the business required to cover the cost. The Vitaphone had to be moved to the Imperial theater downtown Jacksonville. The theater did not make it and closed during the 1930′ and re-opened as a neighborhood movie house only to close again in the 1940’s. The theater was remolded and re-opened in 1949 but this time with a new name, Five Points Theater. It was one of the first in Jacksonville to provide a smoking lounge with push back seats. The theater later provided Cinerama and stereophonic.
In 1972 the theater under went some renovation changing the original Gothic Revival Design. The theater was still showing films until the doors closed in 1977 when it could not compete with the suburban multi-screens. In 1984, the theater re-opened to house a professional theater group, the River City Playhouse. The River City Playhouse lost there place in the Five Points theater when Club5 Inc. leased the theater for three years in 1991. In 1991, the theater re-opened, but this time it was to make way to a music stage. The doors opened to what was known as Club5 a nightclub that brought in music from jive to rock. In 2004, the Planning and Development Department recommended that the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission approve the designation of the Riverside (Five Points) Theater Building as a City Jacksonville Landmark.
Key dates for 5 Points Theatre
1927: Opens as the Riverside Theatre. Designed by Roy Benjamin, architect for downtown’s Florida Theatre, which opened a month later.
1949: Remodeled, with new marquee added. Reopens as the 5 Points Theatre.
Early 1980s: Closes as a theater.
1984: An acting group, River City Playhouse, moves in.
1991-2004: Club 5 nightclub takes over.
2008: 5 Points Theatre reopens, with beer and wine. But seats, screen and audio are not up to industry standard.
December 2011: Sun-Ray Cinema renovates and opens.