Roger L. Stevens Center
407 W. Fourth Street,
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Roger L. Stevens Center (Official)
Previously operated by: Paramount Pictures Inc., Publix Theaters Corporation, Saenger Amusement Company, Wilby-Kincey
Architects: R.O. Bannon, Stanhope Johnson
Firms: Johnson & Bannon
Functions: Movies, Performing Arts
Previous Names: Carolina Theatre
The Carolina Theatre was opened in 1929 with a seating capacity of 2,600 and cost $1 million to build. It was the largest theatre between Atlanta and Washington D.C. and was operated by Publix-Saenger. The stage was 40 feet deep and 80 feet wide. The Carolina Theatre was operated by Paramount-Wilby-Kincey by 1941. It is where Elvis Presley performed in 1954, prior to his first national hit record. It was closed in 1975.
The Carolina Theatre was purchased in 1975 by the North Carolina School of the Arts and turned into a performing arts center known as the Roger L. Stevens Center. Building work was carried out which truncated the height of the auditorium interior by raising the orchestra level to the level of the first balcony seating, which, when completed in 1983, the Roger L. Stevens Center opened with a seating capacity for 1,385. Unfortunately, the UNCSA destroyed the Art Deco style marquee, and the Neo-Classical style figures which were sculptured across the top of the proscenium. It is now a mere shadow of its former greatness, as the Carolina Theatre was spectacular, whereas the Sevens Center is bland.
Dale Pollock, the Dean of the Filmmaking School and a former film producer began a film festival in 2003 and once again shows movies at the Stevens Center. Pollock also planned to have screenings of classic films (from the school’s archives), which would be open to the public.
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Recent comments (view all 23 comments)
Hi Cyclone, I’d love to see these photographs. If you want to post your dad’s photos, you can email them to me and I’ll be glad to do it. My email is:
It’s good to hear from you Mr. Scott! I hope you enjoyed seeing the photos of yourself (Jackie Gantt) from the glory days of the Carolina. Would love to see any photos you have of the Carolina if you could email them to me:
I looked at some of the old photos from the 50s and 60s which brought back some wonderful old memories. It is truly a shame the uniqueness of the Carolina Theater was lost in the renovation.
I was a Go-Go girl at the Saturday morning kiddie shows. I remember auditioning for Dick Bennick onstage one Saturday and then he signed us up to dance once a month. I was 12 years old! Those were the best Saturdays. 50 cents gave you a great band, and a double feature movie and if you were lucky you could find a cute boy to hold hands with during the movie!
wow,nemthys,I must have known you back then, i certainly remember the pretty dancers, i did magic shows,walked on glass barefoot,was a clown sometime etc…will always treasure those days
The Colonial had a Robert Morton Theater Pipe Organ. First it had a 2/5 (manuals/ranks, keyboards/sets of pipes), and later a 2/8. Anyone know what happened to either organ?
The Robert Morgan Organ Company was located in Van Nuys, California. Harold J. Werner the head of the company named the company after his new-born son Robert Mort Werner.
What ever happened to Robert Mort Werner? Later in life he joined NBC as a producer of the “Today” show, produced the “Tonight” show with Jack Parr and introduced such shows as “Bonanza” “Star Trek” and “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” and was President of the American Academy of Television and Arts and Sciences.
M “Red” L
to Bell 1423;;;; remember the downtown a go go very well,was the night Dick Bennick opened it….thanks for the reminder
I was an usher there from 1959-1961, while a student at R. J. Reynolds High School. $.60 an hour plus all the free popcorn I could eat. Minimum wage was 0.75 for most jobs, but theaters and agriculture we allowed to pay less. We wore uniforms then, light blue with brass buttons and ties, to match the classy architecture. Among my duties was putting up the marquee lettering – no fun in the winter!
This photo doesn’t show the upper balcony for blacks, before the theater integrated in the early 60’s. Cropping by the photographer was probably intentional, though the lens might not have been able to take it all in. There was a separate entrance around the corner from the front, along with totally separate accommodations. Thank God those days are gone!
WMboylesaid: “This photo doesn’t show the upper balcony for blacks, before the theater integrated in the early 60’s. Cropping by the photographer was probably intentional, though the lens might not have been able to take it all in. There was a separate entrance around the corner from the front, along with totally separate accommodations. Thank God those days are gone” I remember how i discovered that,,, i was on stage for the first time to do my walking on glass act.. dick Bennick introduced me,i walked out looked up and,saw the exttra balcony…. what a surprise,,,, My thought was,wow even more kids to perform for…..treasure those memories
Camel City Cleaners sponsored some of the Saturday morning shows in the 1960s. When it did, admission was twenty-five cents or five wire coat hangers. I brought coat hangers.