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Restoration continues for historic Carolina Theatre

The Carolina Theatre will serve as a civic hub when it reopens in 2025, seven years after renovations began.

Rendering shows people crossing a busy street toward a windowed, brightly lit glass building.

A rendering of the new Belk Place shows an all-glass exterior and hotel shaping the future of the new Carolina Theatre.

Rendering via Foundation For The Carolinas

The theater that once hosted Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, and “The Sound of Music” will soon open as a civic hub in Uptown.

The Carolina Theatre has hosted live shows and feature films since opening in March 1927. The theatre closed in 1978 and sat dormant at 220 N. Tryon St. until restoration began in 2018.

The Foundation For The Carolinas will bring the $90 million project back to life. Completion is scheduled for November 2024 with an expected opening date of 2025.

“We’re excited to finally share this amazing restoration and historic gem with donors and the community,” said Timothy Hager, Vice President of Communications for the Foundation For The Carolinas.

A rendering shows people gathered inside an open room with high ceilings in front of the Carolina Theatre sign.

When completed, Carolina Theatre will be a hub for civic events and modern performing arts center.

Rendering via Foundation For The Carolinas

Renovations
The space will feature murals paying homage to the 1927 theater. Guests will see the original facade restored, along with decorative plaster and moldings.

The theater will have 950 seats + love seats, lounge seats or banquettes, and box seats.

Programming is expected to include speakers, community engagement events, town hall meetings, and more. Details remain TBD.

A five-star hotel will be built above the theater lobby. The hotel will occupy 23 floors of the 28-story building, boasting 244 rooms with views of Uptown.

A black and white photo of a marching band and parade outside the Carolina Theatre from 1938.

The Carolina Theatre was the only movie house in the Carolinas for many years.

Photo via Foundation For The Carolinas

Opening night
The Carolina Theatre opened March 7, 1924, playing the silent film comedy “A Kiss in a Taxi.” The theater was decorated with intricate murals, balconies, and wrought-iron chandeliers.

Memorable moments
In 1956, Elvis Presley rocked the stage at 21 years old, before many Charlotteans had yet to hear of “The King.” 5,000+ people attended his sold-out shows. Teenagers even lined the blocks for a chance to see the heartthrob.

A black and white photo shows a large group gathered under lit marquees for Elvis Presley Show.

In February 1956, thousands of people gathered to enjoy Elvis Presley’s show at Carolina Theatre.

Photo via Foundation For The Carolinas

Years later, the silver screen hosted “The Sound of Music” to nearly 400,000 people during its record 79-week run. The Carolina Theatre was the only movie house in the Carolinas to show the award-winning film.

The final days
As audiences gravitated to newer theaters, the Carolina Theatre closed its doors on November 27, 1978, after a screening of Bruce Lee’s “The Fist.”

A lit yet rundown interior of a vacant theatre space.

Carolina Theatre sat vacant since 1978 after a final showing of Bruce Lee’s “The Fist.”

Photo via Foundation For The Carolinas

The theater was placed on the Local Historic Register in 1982 and purchased by the city in 1986. After sitting vacant and abandoned, Foundation For The Carolinas purchased the theater for $1 in 2013, kicking off plans for its restoration and renovation.

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