|Address||600 E. Grace St.|
|Reopened||September 12, 2009|
|Other names||Carpenter Theater; Carpenter Center, Richmond CenterStage|
|Location||6th and Grace Sts., Richmond, Virginia|
|Area||1 acre (0.4 ha)|
|Architectural style||Spanish Colonial Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||November 20, 1979|
The Richmond CenterStage, the premier performing arts center in Richmond, Virginia, includes as part of its venues the Landmark Theater and the theater formerly known as Carpenter Theatre Center for the Performing Arts. CenterStage is located at 600 E. Grace Street in downtown Richmond, Virginia. The Carpenter Theatre was originally known as Loew's Theatre, the movie palace was developed by the Loew's Theatres company and was designed by John Eberson. Construction of the building began in 1927 and its doors were opened in 1928.
Largely known to Richmonders as the Carpenter Center, the structure occupies the 600 block of historic Grace Street, a one-way road traveling west through Richmond. It is surrounded by Broad Street to the north, Seventh Street to the east, Grace Street to the south and Sixth street to the west.
Its location is currently being proposed as an addition to the Grace Street Commercial National Historic District. It is not located in a City of Richmond Local Old & Historic District. But does now fall within the new created Arts and Cultural District as designated by Richmond City Council.
As a prominent New York architect, John Eberson conceived a design for the Loew's Theatre Corporation influenced by both Moorish and Spanish baroque structures. According to architectural historian Calder Loth, "Loew's was considered the most up-to-date theater in the South when it opened on April 9, 1928." Eberson was famous for having invented the "atmospheric theatre" design in which the theater walls resembled an elegant villa or streetscape under a night sky. The Carpenter Theatre design evokes a Spanish setting with a faux sky ceiling containing stars and moving clouds.
The facility and organization once known as the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts merged with the Virginia Center for the Performing Arts Foundation in the early 2000s. After a major fundraising and advocacy campaign, and a private-public partnership with the City of Richmond, the Thalheimer's Department Store, adjacent to the Carpenter Center, was purchased as part of the strategic plan to create the then-envisioned performing arts center. Once construction was complete, the entire complex was renamed Richmond CenterStage. The center now contains four venues in two distinct areas. The Carpenter Theatre (named for the Carpenter Foundation) is the historic 1800 seats proscenium theater mentioned above. Dorothy Pauley Square is the newest addition to CenterStage and contains 3 venues / areas: Gottwald Playhouse, a 200 seat flexible playhouse, Rhythm Hall, a jazz / cabaret space and Showcase Gallery, a reception areas and gallery for the visual arts.
CenterStage officially opened to the public with a Grand Opening on September 12, 2009. This was after a large city capital campaign, and controversial public-private partnership with the City of Richmond, and a decision to resize the project from a much larger proposed complex. CenterStage currently has nine Resident Companies who use CenterStage for performances or for office space. African American Repertory Theatre, Henley Street Theatre, Elegba Folklore Society, Richmond Ballet, Richmond Jazz Society, Richmond Shakespeare, Richmond Symphony, SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community), Virginia Repertory Company and Virginia Opera. The facility has the capacity to hold smaller groups for local and regional performances as well as very large audiences for national performing acts.
Most recently Richmond CenterStage celebrated its 2nd birthday with a Gala Celebration featuring Patti La Belle, and will celebrate its 4th year with another gala in June 2013. Richmond CenterStage continues to pursue its mission to be a catalyst for the arts in Richmond and become part of the city's economic and cultural revitalization.
The Landmark Theater, a theater at the southwest corner of Monroe Park, in Richmond, is also a venue of Richmond CenterStage. Formerly known as "The Mosque," the Landmark was constructed in 1926 to be used by the Shriners as the ACCA Temple Shrine. The theater was designed in Moorish Revival style by Marcellus Wright, Sr. in association with Charles M. Robinson and Charles Custer Robinson in 1925 and completed in 1926 The city purchased the building in the 1940s and refurbished it between 1994 and 1995. In 1995 the name was officially changed from The Mosque to Landmark Theater. It is currently a very popular venue, hosting the Broadway in Richmond Series and a number of other headliner musical and comedy acts. In 2012 Richmond City Council authorized an allocation of $14MM to contribute to the renovation and restoration of the Landmark. The complete project is a nearly $50MM renovation and should take approximately 3 years to complete.