Carpenter Theatre

Richmond CenterStage, Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia

Richmond CenterStage, Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Carpenter Theatre

The Carpenter Theatre is a contributing building to the Grace Street Commercial Historic District of Richmond, Virginia. It was designed by John Eberson, an architect known for his movie theater designs, especially in the more exotic revival styles such as we see here. Eberson was famous for having invented the “atmospheric theatre” design. This style of movie palace was very popular in the 1920s. The idea was to transport the patrons to an exotic courtyard or garden and included a painted sky replacing the usual ornate dome of the traditional theatre design. The theater walls quite often resembled an elegant villa. In this case the exterior walls were more like a Californian mission with details reminiscent of a Moorish villa.

Richmond CenterStage, Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia

Richmond CenterStage, Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Construction began in 1927. It opened on April 8,1928 as a Loew’s movie house. At its opening, it was considered the most up-to-date theater in the South.

Now fully restored the Carpenter Theatre seats nearly 1,800. It now has state-of-the-art lighting and world class acoustics whilst preserving its Old World feel. The theatre still has a painted midnight sky ceiling which was one of the unique features of Eberson’s original design, although now with fiber optic stars twinkling overhead.

Richmond CenterStage, Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia

Richmond CenterStage, Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, East Grace Street, Richmond, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

In the early 2000s, the Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, as it had become known, merged with the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation. A public-private partnership with the City of Richmond led to the acquisition of the adjacent Thalhimers department store. This expansion continued until it now encompassed five district venues in two locations within the City. The complex is now know as Richmond CenterStage with the elegant building on the corner of East Grace Street as its cornerstone.

Summary
Carpenter Theatre
Article Name
Carpenter Theatre
Description
Carpenter Theatre in the Grace St Commercial Historic District of Richmond, VA is one of John Eberson signature theaters popular in the 1920s
Author
Publisher Name
Mark Summerfield
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