The Olympia Theater and Office Building (also known as the Maurice Gusman Cultural Center) is a historic theater in Miami, Florida. It is located at 174 East Flagler Street. The original architect was theatre designer John Eberson, in his 'atmospheric' style, and extensive renovations in the 1970s were overseen by architect Morris Lapidus. On March 8, 1984, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. On April 18, 2012, the American Institute of Architects's Florida Chapter placed the building on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as the Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.
Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for Performing Arts Miami’s Beloved Cultural Center Since 1926 Tucked into Miami’s contemporary skyline is an enchanting Mediterranean courtyard with shimmering stars and golden balconies. Majestic turrets and towers suggest another era when performances were events, and grand theaters provided a dreamlike escape from the modern World. The Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts is not just a “venue” – is the jewel of South Florida arts and entertainment facilities, affording South Florida’s diverse community and its international guests a unique cultural experience that defies comparison. The Olympia Theater opened in 1926 as a silent movie palace and amazed the public with its stunning Moorish architecture, perfect acoustics and simulated night sky, complete with wafting clouds and twinkling stars. It also achieved fame as the first air-conditioned building in the South. The “talkies” and Vaudeville soon arrived at the Olympia, and for more than 40 years the theater was the number one entertainment center in Miami. It was one of the last theaters in the country to showcase Vaudeville acts.
Throughout its history, the Olympia – now better known as the Gusman Center – has been host to the world’s most exciting performers in the arts and entertainment community. Cultural icons such as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Luciano Pavarotti and Etta James have provided memorable evenings under the Gusman Center’s stars. The theater has also hosted today’s best-known pop stars and is a favored venue for MTV concerts. By the late 1990s virtually every structural system of the theater was in need of repair and replacement. The roof had several leaks that had damaged the theater’s historic paint and plaster as well as the seating and carpeting in the auditorium. The HVAC system had to be entirely replaced. Electrical, sound systems, and plumbing all required upgrades. Today, as the restoration work nears completion, Miami’s most beloved cultural venue has retained its stature in a downtown that continues its own transformation. High-rise office buildings and glittering luxury condominiums have replaced many of the theater’s aging neighbors. Downtown Miami is once again becoming a place to live, work, shop and play, and the Gusman Center is at the heart of the action – just as it was in 1926.