Explore Venice History

Although many buildings in the downtown area look old, only those constructed during the 1920’s have been included in this tour. In 1987 the city recognized the need to continue the architectural character of the original city and established the Architectural Review Board. The downtown area is part of the Historic Venice District administered by this Board. Any new construction or modifications to the exterior façade of a building in this district must conform to guidelines established by this Board. These standards will ensure the continuation of the “Northern Italian Renaissance” style of architecture within the city. Because of these efforts, the City of Venice will continue to be the beautiful "City on the Gulf".

140 W. Tampa Avenue: Originally The orange Blossom Garage

140 Tampa2

This building was originally constructed to house a gasoline filling station, car storage garage, and five storefront shops. It was completedin the summer of 1927. Advertisements in the Venice News, the local paper, state that it housed the repair shop and the Sinclair Gasoline & Oil station of J. Harris Jones.

During the 1930s, it was used by the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) as an armory, chapel, and basketball arena. KMI had an excellent basketball team and there was a spirited rivalry with local schools. These exhibition games were well attended and were a draw for the community during the winter.

In 1972 following the demise of the KMI, the building was purchased by the community based Venice Little Theatre organization and remodeled as a performance venue. In 2008 the Venice Little Theatre became the Venice Theatre. Among the country’s 10,000 community theaters, the Venice Theatre is ranked #1 in the country for towns the size of Venice and #3 in the country for towns of any size.

Historical documentation provided by:
Venice Heritage Inc.
Photographs provided by:
Venice Museum & Archieve

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