Temple Theatre (Sanford, North Carolina)

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Temple Theatre
Temple Theatre (Sanford, North Carolina) is located in North Carolina
Temple Theatre (Sanford, North Carolina)
Location 120 Carthage St., Sanford, North Carolina
Coordinates 35°28′52″N 79°10′44″W / 35.48111°N 79.17889°W / 35.48111; -79.17889Coordinates: 35°28′52″N 79°10′44″W / 35.48111°N 79.17889°W / 35.48111; -79.17889
Built 1925
Architect Flanagan,Eric G.; Joe W. Stout Co.
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Modern Movement
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 83001895[1]
Added to NRHP September 8, 1983

The Temple Theatre is an historic performance center in Sanford, North Carolina.

The Temple Theatre was built in 1925 by Robert Ingram, Sr. (owner of the Sanford Coca-Cola Bottling Company), at a time when Sanford had a population of only 3,500. The name "Temple" comes from being located next door to what was once Sanford's Masonic Lodge. The following quote ran in a 1925 issue of the Sanford Express, "In erecting this modern theater, he has spared no expense to make it an up-to-date playhouse."

For several decades, the Temple served as Lee County, North Carolina's principal seat of entertainment. Located half a block from the railroad station, the Temple was a frequent for the shows and stars of Vaudeville. Years later, the Temple became a touring house for the road shows of the 1930's (including burlesque), and then a movie theater. During the 1960's, the Sanford Little Theatre and the Footlight Players used the Temple for their community productions. In 1965, the Temple Theatre closed.

The rebirth of the Temple Theatre began in 1981 when Mr. Robert Ingram, Jr., the son of the theatre's original owner, donated the building to the citizens of Lee County. Through the efforts of Sam Bass, the building was designated a National Historic Site in 1983 and received a large challenge grant from the North Carolina Legislature. Lee County citizens and businesses matched the grant, along with a significant grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. The building was gutted and the vandalized shell of Temple Theatre was refurbished with the comfort of both the patron and performer in mind. In 1984, Temple reopened as a community theater under the director Kathy DeNobriga. The first show at the newly renovated Temple was Chicago.

The lobby's richly painted walls and wooden trim flank the original multi-colored floor of hexagonal tiles. Above hangs a crystal chandelier accented in gold, while twin staircases sweep up on either side of the lobby leading to the balcony where the restored tin ceiling can be best appreciated. Backstage, the actors enjoy comfortable dressing rooms, a kitchen, and a lounge area. That's not bad, considering the original structure had one bathroom for the performers and it was located in the basement. There is a full counterweight fly system backstage, an advanced communication network, and a computer-controlled lighting (last updated in 2010) and sound system (lasted updated in 2014), making the theatre practical and workable. Originally, the Temple seated 500. During the 80's renovation process, seating was reduced to 334, making it quite an intimate venue. The Temple also has an orchestra pit, which is utilized by musicians, but can be covered to create a larger stage. Because it was designed for vaudeville, the acoustics are superb - highlighted by an ornate painted tin ceiling, and audience members have a good view of the stage from every seat. In the spring of 2012, the Temple unveiled a brand new concession and restroom area.

The Temple is a cultural center and the top year-round attraction in Lee County. The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, the Red Clay Ramblers, The Kingston Trio, the Glenn Miller Band, Count Basie, Mark Wills, and Jimmie "J.J." Walker are among he artists who have performed at the Temple Theatre.

Today, The Temple Theatre Company produces seven Main Stage shows per season ranging from musicals to dramas, with each show running for three weeks. All the actors are paid professionals brought in from across the country. The Temple Theatre also hosts stand-up comedians as part of its 'One Night Stands' series. Special events at the Temple range from pop concerts to dance recitals.

The Temple attracts patrons from the Research Triangle, the Piedmont Triad, and the Sandhills areas on a regular basis. In all, around 30,000 people visit the Temple each year. All funds raised during the annual fund drive go to the maintenance and operation of the facility (utilities, insurance, equipment, security, etc.). Production expenses come from ticket sales, sponsorships, grants, and advertising. The Temple Theatre is a non-profit organization.

The full schedule of events at Temple Theatre can be viewed at http://templeshows.com.

Current Staff...
Peggy Taphorn Producing Artistic Director
Chris deLambert Director of Business Development & Marketing
Greta Zandstra Education Director
Steven Harrington Technical Director
Sheila Brewer Business Manager
Anna Bernard Box Office Manager
Tiffany Owle Production Stage Manager
Jon McKone Master Electrician/Carpenter


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 

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