Constructed in the Mediterranean Revival style, the interior of the theatre was modeled after a Spanish courtyard with "Romeo & Juliet" balconies, Spanish tile roof, and a dark blue ceiling resplendent with "stars." The Garden Theatre underwent several renovations until closing in 1963, falling victim to the popularity of television. Soon after the interior was completely removed and the sloped floor was covered with cement to level the surface to be used by a farm supply store.
In 2003, the City of Winter Garden purchased the movie theatre for restoration, and in January 2004, because of the WGHF's efforts in the community, the City Commission voted to turn over the building to WGHF for restoration and subsequent theatre operations. WGHF's vision for the Garden Theatre is two-fold: to restore this historic building to its original architecture, keeping with the character of historic downtown Winter Garden; and to open new and exciting possibilities for the entire West Orange County community by becoming the "heartbeat of the city" as a 299-seat performing arts center. The Theatre will be operational January 2008 and will present professional theatre, dance and music companies. The Theatre will show movies, and enhance WGHF's current educational programming with community development and children's programs. The Garden Theatre project brings a cultural performing arts center to Winter Garden, a town with unparalleled charm in Central Florida. This achievement is revitalizing the downtown historic district, and bringing a nostalgic sense of community back to the citizens of Winter Garden.
When the original Garden Theatre closed in 1963, Winter Garden was falling victim to many changes. In the 1970s and '80s, the once vibrant community of Winter Garden was in decline. Freezes contributed to the demise of the citrus industry, rapid population growth became the norm, and the addition of area theme parks forever changed the economic and cultural landscape. In 1991, a group of citizens created a committee to identify opportunities and outline a strategy to grow and change the face of downtown Winter Garden. The Orange County "Rails to Trails" project began the dramatic turnaround, culminating in a new multi-million dollar streetscape. This visionary committee became the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation. Many new businesses responded to this opportunity to revitalize city by bringing restaurants and shops back to the downtown area.
The growth continues with the Garden Theatre. Anticipation of the return of this historic landmark has been building for years. By restoring its architectural charm and re-introducing well-loved family programming, this project will be filling a cultural void in West Orange County. By presenting 4-7 events each week, a study by Marketplace Advisors, Inc. shows the estimated annual economic impact of the operational theatre to be $23.31/person, a total of $1,114,080 annually.