In 1912, an enterprising ex-sponge diver, had a theater built and called it the “DIXIE”. Opening in April of 1913, he imported traveling theater troupes. In 1915, with the advent of motion pictures, the Dixie Theatre was converted to a motion picture house.
It became the entertainment center for Franklin County and remained so until 1967, when it was closed, shuttered and left to fall in on itself.
In 1992, Rex and Cleo Partington came to St. George Island for vacation and wandered in to Apalachicola for dinner. In walking around the mostly boarded up town, they stumbled upon the Dixie Theatre remains and noticed the DIXIE Theatre Office sign in the building next door. Planning to retire within the year, Rex was in his 21st and final year as Producing Artistic Director with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon Virginia, Rex and Cleo thought it was an omen since coincidentally their daughters name was Dixie. They proceeded to move to Apalachicola with daughter Dixie in 1993 and purchase what was left of the property from the City of Apalachicola. In 1997 demolition and construction was started on the Theater and in 1998 the DIXIE opened with Sylvia & Driving Miss Daisy. It is now one of only a few family-owned & operated Professional Equity Theaters in America. The Dixie Theatre Foundation has produced over 40 professional theater productions, as well as numerous musical events including the ever popular The DIXIE Does Nashville series as well as Bob Milne – Ragtime Piano.
In January 2004, Rex turned over the operation of the Theater to daughter Dixie and in June of that year, the Dixie Theatre began showing Movies for the 1st time in 37 years, and did so for 2 ½ years in conjunction with live professional theater productions and music.
Rex Partington, the last great gentlemen of the Theatre and Co-founder of the DIXIE, died in March 2006…but left the Dixie Theatre as his legacy.
Today the DIXIE is still run by Full-time Professional Volunteer Dixie Partington with help from Cleo. However, it should be noted that the Dixie Theatre would not be here today without the tireless volunteer efforts of Jerry Hall, entrepreneur and local business owner (The Grill, Soda Fountain, Pot Lot, and Up the Creek Raw Bar, Up the Street, Up the Stairs Restaurant).
Due to limited funding and support, the DIXIE is only able to offer a 3 month professional season running January – March. We sometimes have other events scheduled during the year and these are generally posted here on the website. Email us or contact our business office at 850-653-3200 for more details.
The Dixie Theatre Foundation, Inc. is a not for profit 501 (c) (3) organization, all contributions to the DIXIE are tax deductible. 2016 marks their 19th Year of Live Professional Theatre and Music at its best!