Greensboro, North Carolina
The Carolina Theater of Greensboro, North Carolina is Greensboro, North Carolina's only remaining historic theater. It was billed as “The Showplace of the Carolinas” when it opened on Halloween night, 1927. The 2,200 seat structure was built for the Saenger-Publix Company, cost over $500,000 to build and was one of the first commercial buildings to be air conditioned in the state.
When constructed, the auditorium had a segregated balcony plus a mezzanine. Black patrons entered by a separate stairway and could only sit in the balcony. As late as May, 1963, the theater was segregated. On May 15, 1963, students from North Carolina A&T University and Bennett College blocked the theater's entrance when they were refused entrance.
By the early 1970s, the theater had declined and was slated for demolition by its owner, Jefferson Pilot Corporation, now Lincoln National Corporation. The United Arts Council of Greensboro raised $550,000 to purchase the building from Jefferson Pilot at a bargain price. The United Arts Council refurbished the Theater before reopening it as a community arts performing arts center in 1978.
In 1981, fire severely damaged the theater and necessitated a second refurbishment. The balcony was closed and later new lighting and sound systems installed. In its present configuration, the theater seats 1,075. At the time of the fire, a woman hiding inside the theatre was killed. Her body was recovered in the stairwell and since her presence in the building was unlawful, it is widely believed that she set the fire herself in a suicide attempt. Today, visitors of the theatre claim that odd occurrences, like seats moving and lights flickering, are proof that her spirit remains in the building.
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