Roger L. Stevens Center
407 W. Fourth Street,
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Roger L. Stevens Center (Official)
Firms: Johnson & Bannon
Previous Names: Carolina Theatre
The Carolina Theatre was opened on January 13, 1929 with Pauline Frederick in “On Trial” plus vaudeville on the stage. It had 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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