Foundation for the Carolinas is planning a massive renovation of the 36,000-square-foot historic Carolina Theatre located at Tryon and 6th after purchasing it from the city for $1 in 2013. Yes, one dollar.
Originally opened in 1927, the space once thrived as a major performance venue and movie theatre, first for vaudeville performances and talkies (the earliest films with sound) in the early 20th century and later as host to huge names like Bob Hope, Katherine Hepburn and Elvis Presley. Today it’s in shambles, woefully neglected for nearly 40 years.
But FFTC has some seriously big plans for a comeback.
The project’s advisory committee is chaired by Crescent Communities CEO Todd Mansfield. With $28 million of the $35 million fundraising goal reached as of this month, construction is slated to kick off in January 2016 with a hopeful completion by early 2018.
Despite its theatrical history, the renovated Carolina Theatre is being designed to serve as more of a civic gathering space with 1,000 seats for public discourse, including speeches, lectures, debates and conferences. Proposed plans for the renovated theatre include expanding outward with a main lobby that will replace the park currently located on Tryon and upward with three floors of office space and a boutique hotel.
Odds are if you’re under the age of 40 (most of our readership), you aren’t familiar with this venue’s history and know it only as that random neon sign that seems to lead to nowhere. Though the original main entrance is gone and the building is shuttered, a side door opens to the eery remains of this once vibrant space.
If nothing else, they could turn it into one heck of a haunted house this fall…
The Foundation plans to preserve the theatre’s history by upholding its original color palate. They even brought in experts to analyze chipped paint and determine its original hue.
As a young Charlottean who’s only been here for the last five years, I had absolutely no idea this historical space stood behind that wall on Tryon. I can only imagine the memories it stirs up for those who’ve been around here longer and perhaps even saw it in its prime.