Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts

Location: Richmond, VA
Date Built: 1928
Rehabilitation: 2004-2009
Original Use: Loew's Movie Theater
New Use: Performing Arts Center, Home of the Richmond Symphony, Richmond Ballet, Virginia Opera, and Numerous Emerging Community Arts Groups

Background Information

Designed by John Eberson as a Loew's Movie Theatre, the Carpenter Theatre first opened its doors in 1928. It showed films until 1979 when it was shuttered due to competition from suburban multiplexes. It remained vacant until 1983 when it was restored and reopened as the Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts. Despite this relatively recent rehabilitation, the theatre was in shabby condition and its poor acoustics, lobby and amenities were not sufficient to regularly draw repeat customers. Further, its constrained stage size prevented the Carpenter from attracting major touring shows.

The Richmond Center Stage project, a four-venue performing arts complex that includes the original theater building, offered the Carpenter a lift out of mediocrity. In December 2004, the Carpenter was again closed while the CenterStage Foundation began a $25 million renovation and restoration of the theatre. The Carpenter Theatre is now part of an innovative performing arts complex that offers arts patrons a rich and varied arts experience in downtown Richmond.

The Center Stage project also included the construction of a new 80,000 square foot facility, the Dorothy Pauley Square, next to the historic Carpenter. All area arts groups now have the opportunity to use this innovative complex which includes: Rhythm Hall, a multipurpose venue which caters to jazz combos, dance troupes and other arts organizations; Libby Gottwald Community Playhouse, a 200-seat theater used primarily by small, non-profit theater groups and for small musical performances; and, the Genworth Bright Lights Education Center, a performing arts education facility which offers educational workspaces, a visual arts gallery, meeting rooms and offices. The Genworth features outreach programs to area public school students interested in careers in the performing arts, theater management and technology.

Project Financing

Summary of Costs

      • Rehabilitation and New Construction: $60,533,960
      • Reserves: $4,300,950
      • Soft Costs and Other: $20,659,954
      • Total Development Cost: $85,488,864

Sources of Financing

      • Grant – Commonwealth of Virginia: $8,500,000
      • Grant – City of Richmond: $25,000,000
      • Donations – Corporate and Individual: $13,700,000
      • Equity – Federal Historic Tax Credit: $8,857,692
      • Equity – State Historic Tax Credit: $9,000,000
      • Equity – New Markets Tax Credit: $2,286,375
      • Other: $18,144,797
      • Total Financing Sources: $85,488,864