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Inside Lincoln Road's Lost Carib Theater, Soon to be a Ross

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The former Carib Theater on South Beach's Lincoln Road, now an empty shell already completely obliterated of its midcentury, fantastical splendor, will soon be replaced by a Ross Dress for Less. Although the facade is allegedly designed to evoke the old Carib in a contemporary aesthetic, we're not buying it. Curbed Miami once called the new design "Vegas-style schlock." Instead compare the Ross that soon will be to the Carib that once was, in this trove of old images collected from the archives of the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum, cinematreasures.org, and the public domain, and in the words of two great Miami historians, collector Mickey Wolfson, whose father built it as part of the Wometco movie theater chain, and artist Michele Oka-Doner.

Mr. Wolfson and Ms. Oka-Doner recorded their memories of the Carib in a book, Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden, as well as a blog post way back in 2006 that describes it as thus:

Built in 1950 and designed to be one of the most exciting and modern theaters in the world, the Carib Theater on Lincoln Road was a remarkable melding of architecture, artistry and technology. Inspired by the tropical splendors of the Caribbean, the Carib was the result of Wometco's mission to build a theater with an exterior and interior that could conform to South Florida's climactic conditions and reflect the region's natural and cultural richness. After conducting a national competition, Mitchell Wolfson hired architect Michael J. DeAngelis to create a state-of-the-art movie palace complete with waterfalls, lighting fixtures that featured plexiglas birds and fish and a facade with huge illuminated map of the Caribbean. The lobby was populated by live parrots and tropical plantings. The following is from Theatre Catalog: "Easily one of the finest theatres erected in 1950, the 2,200-seat Carib was opened December 22, in one of the city's most fashionable shopping districts. As such, it commands an excellent admission scale…In keeping with its name and location, a Caribbean theme prevails throughout the theatre. The front bears a huge map of the area done in raised porcelain, the open-air patio-foyer has a tropical atmosphere, and the auditorium is designed with a distinct under-sea motif…From the large main foyer, where a wide candy bar is situated, an escalator moves upward toward the mezzanine. This is enclosed with glass in the front to afford a full view of the patio-foyer entrance, wherein are found flagstone walls and floors, a huge antique mirror, and flying birds made of plexiglas…There is a television lounge on the second floor and another set in the foyer…In the auditorium, the cartouche design on either side of the proscenium arch signifies a floating sheet with mystic designs of undersea life and is made of plexiglas and ornamental plaster with indirect lighting. The proscenium arch has bases of Octopus-design which, when indirectly lighted, make the proscenium appear to float in mid-air."

Does anyone know what happened to the architectural details after the theater was closed?


Á Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden, Carib Theater [Wolfsonian-FIU]
· Carib Theater [Cinema Treasures]
· Carib Theater coverage [Curbed Miami]