Historic Theatre, New Act

Posted on: April 17th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Written by Erica Stewart

Our friends at the CenterStage Foundation have been keeping us informed of a fabulous project underway to create a new identify for a venerable historic theatre. The Richmond (Virginia) CenterStage project rehabs the Carpenter Theatre, a once-grand movie house, and integrates it into a brand new performing arts complex next door. Built in 1928 as the Loew's Theatre, the Carpenter had an elegant interior and a dark brick exterior ornamented with sculpted terra cotta and limestone. Like many downtown theatres, it could not survive the demographic shift to the suburbs and the Carpenter was shuttered in 1979.

The rehab returns the theatre to grandeur and beyond, expanding its stage size, improving acoustics and updating amenities and public spaces to create a more inviting environment for performers and patrons alike. This will create a top-notch venue for symphonies, dance troupes, Broadway shows and concerts from near and far.

The $25 million will be financed in part by a $12 million federal historic and New Markets Tax Credit equity investment by the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, the for profit subsidiary of the National Trust.

Once the Richmond CenterStage project is completed, the Carpenter will complement the 80,000 square-foot Dorothy Pauley Square that will contain three venues, including an intimate setting for small nonprofit theater groups, educational workspaces and a visual arts gallery.

Without further ado, let's take a look:

At the rear of the Orchestra level in the Carpenter Theatre, the ceiling restoration is nearly complete.

At the rear of the Orchestra level in the Carpenter Theatre, the ceiling restoration is nearly complete.

Work to re-rake the mezzanine and balconies to provide better sight lines as well as accessible seating is well underway, as seen from peering between newly restored ight fixtures at the house-right sky loft.

Work to re-rake the mezzanine and balconies to provide better sight lines as well as accessible seating is well underway, as seen from peering between newly restored ight fixtures at the house-right sky loft.

View into the orchestra pit where the lift's floor structure and machinery are being installed. (For orientation, the front edge of the stage is in the upper left of the photo.)

View into the orchestra pit where the floor structure and machinery for the lift are being installed. (For orientation, the front edge of the stage is in the upper left of the photo)

Progess is visible at the exterior of the Dorothy Pauley Square: the top floor windows have been installed as well as the glass for the 7th Street bay window.

Progess is visible at the exterior of the Dorothy Pauley Square: the top floor windows have been installed as well as the glass for the 7th Street bay window.

We're excited to watch this transformation take place, and eagerly anticipate the Richmond CenterStage opening in September 2009. For more information on this downtown arts success story, visit www.preservationnation.org/resources/case-studies/ntcic/carpenter-theatre.html

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Community Revitalization Program.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

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