Carolina Theatre
Greensboro, North Carolina

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310 South Greene Street
Opened: October, 1927
Architect: J.M. Workman, Greensboro, North Carolina
2200 seats




Facts About the New Carolina Theatre


It cost $500,000.

It has a seating capacity of 2,200.

Ingeniously constructed to insure a clear and unobstructed view of the stage from every seat in the house.

Fourteen exits to permit clearing of the theater in two minutes.

Colorful and harmonious lighting effects.

Luxurious ladies' lounge and cosmetic room.

Heated and cooled and ventilated by $75,000 heating and electric refrigeration installation.

Stage 25 feet deep and 90 feet long, large enough to take care of grand operas and hippodrome attractions.

Interior design in Grecian architecture, modified by renaissance.

Fresh, pure air replaces used air every two minutes.

Absolute control of humidity and temperature at all times.

Walls and ceilings of lobby, arcades and auditorium decorated in variegated sandstone.

Largest and finest theater in the Carolinas

Designed by James M. Workman.Executed by Consolidated Engineering company.

Operated by Publix-Saenger theaters.

Built by Publix-Saenger corporation and National Amusement company.

Greensboro Daily News 10/30/1927




New Carolina Suggests Original Greek Design With Polychrome Color
Is only building in country carrying out original idea except Philadelphia Art Museum;
Handsome new theatre designed and work is supervised by J.M. Workman, of this city;
All departments are separate fireproof units.
By A.W. Stamey



The ancient 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 lower entrance.

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. Leviathan.

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 the country.


Thanks to  Rebecca McCuiston, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Carolina Theatre


  November 15, 2000
Photo by Randy Stankey

The Carolina Theatre is a vibrant presence in the Greensboro community as an historic theatre hosting a wide variety of performing arts.

The theatre's yearlong, excellent film program is a movie buff's dream: great movies on an enormous screen in an authentic movie palace, complete with classic changeovers on two vintage Century projectors.



Other information:


Carolina Theatre, official web site

Carolina Theatre, pictures & information from the Piedmont Theatre Organ Society
Greensboro, North Carolina, Internet Assistance page with photo of Carolina Theatre facade
Priene Theatre, an earlier theatre in the Greek polychrome motif




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