Carpenter Theatre

600 E. Grace Street,
Richmond, VA 23219

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Showing 26 - 50 of 94 comments

morosco on August 29, 2009 at 11:25 pm

A slide show from the Richmond Times Dispatch
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Patsy on August 29, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Congratulations on the curtain rising, once again, at the Eberson designed atmospheric Carpenter Theatre of Richmond VA. It’s music to my ears!

MPol on August 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm

What a gorgeous-looking theatre—it looks just like old times!

morosco on August 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm

The Curtain (Finally) Rises
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morosco on August 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Here’s a picture of the marquee along with 3 other Carpenter Theatre photos that were taken 8/24/09.
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Ziggy on August 24, 2009 at 1:25 pm

I’m a little concerned. Compared to the photo at the top of this page, the photo at the Carpenter’s website makes the paint in the auditorium look pretty bland. Hopefully it’s just the lighting or something.

morosco on August 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Thalhimers originally took up ¾ of the block. The 2/4 that fronted Broad Street was demolished. The remaining ¼ at Seventh and Grace is what now houses the smaller venues and CenterStage/Symphony offices along with dressing rooms and support areas for the Carpenter Theatre.

The original wrap around corner marquee has been replicated and will have an extensive LED matrix display. The zipper marquee that originally ran vertically alongside the facade of the building has not been replicated.

GaryParks on July 30, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Does anyone have recent photos of the new marquee? I was surprised to see Chuck 1231’s link above to that 1968 American Classic Images photo which shows the original marquee and vertical still 100% intact at that late date. Yet, at some point, they were sacrificed for a product of the Let’s See How Boring We Can Make It school of marquee design sometime between then and the 1980s. I’ll venture a guess the original signage vanished during the aesthetically depraved 1970s, when if it wasn’t made of weathered wood and rusty nails, it was banished. And plain plastic was the fallback when no design whatsoever was asked for.

HowardBHaas on July 27, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I’m confused because it seems as if Thalhimers was demolished!
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morosco on July 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

CenterStage complex provides several venues

By Staff Reports
Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: July 26, 2009

Carpenter Theatre
Dorothy Pauley Square
The Richmond CenterStage complex in downtown Richmond is a mixture of old and modern architectural styles.

On one side, there is the historic Carpenter Theatre, built in 1928 in a Spanish Mediterranean style. On the other is Dorothy Pauley Square, which incorporates the modern, mid-20th-century design of the former Thalhimers department store.

It was a purposeful decision to keep the architectural styles of the two buildings distinct and maintain the Thalhimers building because of its historical meaning to the Richmond community, said architect Bruce Herrmann of the Boston-based architecture firm Wilson Butler Architects.

“It was an interesting conversion from what was an old department store into a performing-arts facility,” Herrmann said. “We’ve got a number of venues in there. Hopefully, it’s going to bring a lot of life and excitement back to this part of town.” Showcase Gallery: This venue on the first level of Dorothy Pauley Square offers 1,500 square feet of gallery space for display of the visual arts. The Showcase Gallery features large windows facing Grace and Seventh streets so passers-by can see the displays from the street and be drawn into the gallery. This venue can also be used in conjunction with such local arts events as First Fridays.

Rhythm Hall: This multipurpose venue is adjacent to the Showcase Gallery. Rhythm Hall offers a variety of room configurations — from wide-open space to 150 seats. It is available for corporate use and offers a full catering kitchen. The room’s versatility lends itself to anything from a dance floor to a comedy club to a musical concert venue. Retractable glass partitions separate Rhythm Hall from Showcase Gallery. Gottwald Playhouse: An intimate performance venue with a capacity to seat up to 200 people, the playhouse features a stage in the center of the floor that can be raised or lowered depending on the type of performance. The state-of-the-art seating is also adjustable based on preference — flat on the floor or tiered. Genworth BrightLights Education Center: Education is the highlight in this 8,900-square-foot venue on the third floor of Dorothy Pauley Square. It features a large space for a classroom or rehearsal space; there is also space for three other classrooms, two of which are connected with a retractable wall to form a larger classroom. Included in the venue is the Digital Arts Learning Center — equipped for students to learn how to create podcasts, live-streaming programs and other multimedia content that can be used by teachers and students across the region.

Students will be able to use arts education to improve academic performance in other subject areas, says Jay Smith, spokesman for Richmond CenterStage. “It’s not just about bringing kids here … but taking arts education into the community, into the schools,” he said.

— Jeremy Slayton

morosco on July 27, 2009 at 6:29 am

Richmond CenterStage complex nearing completion

By Jeremy Slayton
Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: July 26, 2009
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Much has changed since the Carpenter Theatre opened 81 years ago in downtown Richmond, but with each step under the new high-tech marquee into the theater’s rotunda, it’s like being transported back in time.

Despite the multitude of technological advances — from fiber-optic lighting and air-conditioning vents along the floor in the theater to the state-of-the-art marquee — the structure and feel of the theater are that of 1928 and even further back in time.

Visitors who walk through the rotunda, with its original multicolored tiled floor, are ushered into a theater that has the feel of a medieval Mediterranean castle. A courtyard-like auditorium adds to the fantasy of being entertained in a long-ago era.

At the Carpenter Theatre, being restored as part of the new Richmond CenterStage performing-arts center, crews went to “great lengths to bring it back to its original form … with all the amenities and comforts of the 21st century,” said Jay Smith, spokesman for Richmond CenterStage.

Specialists went so far as to match the original paint schemes — from the intricate, ornate features to the textured walls with multiple layers of different color paints — in their efforts to preserve John Eberson’s original theater design for what started out as the Loew’s Richmond Theatre.

Through that painstaking process of restoring the structure, architect Bruce Herrmann of Wilson Butler Architects in Boston had access to original drawings and photos, including some from Richmond Times-Dispatch archives. He said to find the exact paint colors, it was treated like a mini archaeological dig — scraping through layers of paint and plaster to find about 40 original colors to reapply to the walls.

With the help of EverGreene Architectural Arts, a New York-based company that specializes in historic preservation of architectural arts, studies were done on the walls' paint inside the Carpenter Theatre to put together a palette that represented the intent of the original painters and architect.

“Over the course of 80 years, the building had been painted a number of times. Some of these [original colors] were buried under new versions of paint,” Herrmann said. “Some people are going to be surprised because it’s not going to be exactly what they remember from 10 years ago or even their childhood.”

The extensive effort paid off in what will be a dominant performing-arts presence that occupies a city block.

After eight years, the $73.5 million project on Grace Street between Sixth and Seventh streets is nearing completion. Estimates in 2007 put the project’s cost at $65 million; the city is contributing $25 million to CenterStage through former Mayor L. Douglas Wilder’s City of the Future program to reinvest in public facilities.

Private donors as well as state and federal governments are also funding the project, which was announced in early 2001 and scaled back at the insistence of Wilder in 2005.

“Our board is very pleased with the progress that is being made; now everything is taking shape inside the Carpenter Center,” said James E. Ukrop, chairman of the board for the CenterStage Foundation. “It just looks better and better every day. From what I’ve seen and what others have seen, it’s everything we hoped it would be. It’s a performing-arts center that Richmond deserves.”

Smith said construction will be complete by CenterStage’s grand opening at 8 p.m. Sept. 12, though workers last week were on scaffolds finishing projects along the theater’s stage and red-tape-blocked areas in the lobby.

The opening performances will feature the nine resident performing groups — African American Repertory Theatre, Elegba Folklore Society, Richmond Ballet, Richmond Jazz Society, Richmond Shakespeare, Richmond Symphony, School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, Theatre IV/Barksdale and the Virginia Opera.

“It’s the first time all nine are performing together,” Smith said.

Walking into the theater’s spacious auditorium gives patrons a feeling of being outside. Lights in the ceiling mimic stars in the sky; enhanced technology allows for changes in intensity, giving off a twinkling-star effect. A cloud projector adds to the ambience of sitting outside in a courtyard watching a performance.

Even the architecture along the walls adds to the appearance of being outdoors. Ivy roams among the arched balconies and balustrades along the theater’s walls, as if facades of buildings in ancient Rome encircle the auditorium seating. Additional lighting behind the facade can be used to replicate the sunset when patrons first arrive.

“It’s all part of that illusion of being in this place where you’re in this environment that you’ve escaped from whatever is outside; in the theater world, it’s called the temporary suspension of disbelief,” Herrmann said. “We’re trying extend as much as we can.”

Major effort was put into making the viewing experience for patrons comfortable. The historic theater had about 2,000 seats when it closed in late 2004. Even though overall seating has decreased, a capacity of 1,800 remains. Space between rows has grown, and plush, wider seats with taller backs provide comfort.

While patrons are treated to a more comfortable experience, so are the performers. Dressing rooms were increased from 10 to 20 and can accommodate up to 200 performers. The stage is 45 feet deep, allowing for more than 100 types and depths of scenery, Smith said.

With opening day less than two months away, great care is being taken to protect the completed work. Tarps cover the seats in the theater, while strips of carpet, boards and wood protect the floor.

Former retail space that fronted Grace Street is part of the theater’s lobby, not only to provide more space for concessions and the flow of traffic but also to be more inviting for the public.

“The goal is … the show begins at the sidewalk; we want people driving by to realize there is something going on at the Carpenter and raise their curiosity level,” Herrmann said. “It’s all part of the tease to draw you in and, hopefully, bring the life back to this corner.”

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on April 19, 2009 at 10:06 am

Here is a photo from 1985.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on January 26, 2009 at 11:35 am

This is the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places.

joemasher on December 2, 2008 at 4:39 am

Stopped by the Carpenter yesterday—lots of constuction activity going on. The marquee has been removed, and the new stagehouse has been completed (at least from the outside). The storefronts are all bricked up.

Patsy on October 18, 2007 at 4:01 pm

HowardBHaas: Me, too!

HowardBHaas on October 15, 2007 at 7:36 pm

I’d suggest that when it reopens, name & Intro adjustments can be made at once when all is clear. I do like Carpenter Theatre rather than the longer name. I’m tired of “centers.”

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 15, 2007 at 7:28 pm

Thanks Howard. Maybe the name above should be shortened to “Carpenter Theatre”.

HowardBHaas on October 15, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Reviewing website, looks like historic theater is called Carpenter Theatre. We will know better when it reopens.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 15, 2007 at 6:58 pm

Here is another recent photo. The marquee reads “Richmond CenterStage”. The website for this theater also gives the name as Richmond CenterStage. Is that the official name of this theater?

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 7, 2007 at 4:39 pm

This is a recent view of the Carpenter Center.

ghamilton on August 11, 2007 at 6:40 pm

GREAT picture on front page of today’s Times-Dispatch,of interior work.Article on the project is in sec.B.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 24, 2007 at 10:24 am

This is an interior view of the Loew’s Theater.

rlvjr on January 29, 2007 at 6:02 pm

Please click into the website at the top. Apperently there has been very much progress since the last entry here on May 6, 2006.