Greeks gave the world its first well-designed theater, or
amphitheater. There have been some changes in design,
many of them revolutionary, to fit the need and tastes of
succeeding areas. The Elizabethan theater, offspring of
the English courtyard and bull-baiting ring, is the
parent of our latter-day show house. Architects and
designers of the present age, however, have sought to
harmonize many of the classical types of architecture
with that of the theater structure proper and the results
have been pleasing.
Those who will attend the formal opening of the new
Carolina Theatre here Monday will be aware of this. In
point of beauty, simplicity and grandeur the new Carolina
follows closely the Greek period, both in design and
effect, with a pleasing touch of Italian Renaissance here
and there to add detail and contrast.
The front exterior of the theatre is fashioned after the
early Greek temples, with tall built-in columns
surmounted by capitals and entablature of brilliant
polychrome coloring. It was not until comparatively
recent years that it was known that the Greek Temples and
public buildings were brilliantly colored in places and
so far as is known the new theatre here is probably the
only structure of its kind in the country carrying out
the original idea, except the Philadelphia Art Museum.
Grill windows in Grecian design glazed with tapestry
glass, separate these piers which rise high above the
The entrance vestibule has elaborate cornice with walls
in a fine texture treatment. Next comes the entrance
foyer, which is unfurnished except for the handsome built-in
display cases on the walls. The floor is of marble tile
and the cornice is in rich gold and color work. The
ceiling has a pink and blue cloud effect. Black and gold
base is used effectively.
From the entrance foyer one goes next into the stair
foyer, or lower lobby which leads into the auditorium
through a large arched entrance heavily draped. This
foyer is flanked on either side by classic stairs of
travertine marble and ornamental bronze rails, leading to
the mezzanine, or lounge room. The mezzanine overlooks
the stair foyer, and is separated from it by a colonnade
of marble columns in moss green, surmounted by an
elaborate Corinthian entablature of rich gold and blue.
This colonnade supports a highly decorated ceiling.
Looking across from the mezzanine one finds over the
entrance a beautiful cut glass mirror, lined in
ornamental bronze and set in a classic colonnade, lending
a touch of Renaissance. The walls of the foyer, as are
those of the auditorium, are finished in a variegated
warm buff and brown sandstone. The stairs leading to the
mezzanine are carpeted in a soft red texture.
The mezzanine, or lounge room, is flanked on either side
by large hallways off of which are situated the woman's
vanity parlor and the men's smoking room.
A complete view of the beautiful auditorium is gained as
one leaves the mezzanine and enters the first balcony
through a large arched opening, the slight ascent being
made over low, spacious treads.
The auditorium, the lower floor of which seats 1,300
people may be described as a Grecian colonnade with a
touch of Renaissance. The interior bears a circular
effect. The columns are in yellow sepia marble treatment,
and the intervening spaces are broken by high arched
openings of the Renaissance type. These arched openings
are draped in rich scarlet brocaded in gold with delicate
gold cloth under draperies. At the lower level of these
arched openings is a classical balustrade, with flower
boxes set between pedestals.
This handsome colonnade rests on a massive wall, carried
out in stone treatment richly decorated with gold and
color ornament. The lower wall is broken by a series of
classic niches specially illuminated and having a rich
gold background. In the niches are statues in white.
The colonnade supports a Corinthian entablature and
cornice richly embellished and gold in color. The ceiling
is a semi-elliptical dome, hanging from which is a single
chandelier in brilliant crystal.
Perhaps the most pleasure feature of the interior is the
large proscenium over the stage. This consists of an
enormous bronze effect panel gracefully curved and
bounding the eliptical opening to the stage. The
proscenium panel is richly ornamented with Greek floral
design on each side and a group of five dancing girls
with flowing robes above in a classic pose.
The orchestra pit is of a graceful oval shape, blending
with the curves of the house and is finished in walnut.
On either side low and gracefully designed steps lead to
the stage lending a pleasing idea of intimacy between the
audience and the players. A special door to the right
affords entrance and exit for the musicians.
The exits to the auditorium are spacious and convenient.
Built-in concrete enclosed fire escapes lead from the
balcony. Private fireproof passageways connect the
auditorium and stage.
The stage proper is an exceptionally large one and can
take care of the largest performances. It has a depth of
35 feet and a width of 90 feet. Each department,
including the stage proper, dressing rooms and the like
is a separate fireproof unit, the big boiler room is set
in a fireproof vault. The heating system is combined with
a special ventilating and cooling system. Both systems
are practically indirect.
The entire theatre structure from entrance to rear exit,
from basement to roof , is as fireproof as can be
designed in modern days. The structure itself is on
concrete and steel and the roof is bonded.
The building was designed by James M. Workman and J. H.
deSibour, engineer and architect. It is significant that
the owners and operators arranged to carry out Mr.
Workman's original conception of the design, and thereby
they have obtained a theatre that is distinctive and one
which provides excellent lines of vision from all parts
of the house lending an unmistakable feeling of rest and
comfort. One of the most pleasing features in the design
is the group of dancing girls on the proscenium arch,
these figures have been drawn by Herman Hirschauer, who
executed the mural paintings and decorations on the S.S.
While it was found necessary to eliminate some beautiful
features the new Carolina Theatre here is considered the
most beautifully designed show house in the entire south,
and certainly one of the largest and most convenient in