National Trust for Historic Preservation Lauds Grand Reopening of Culpeper State Theatre

$9 million historic rehabilitation enabled by now-threatened federal program

After sitting vacant for almost a decade, the 1938 art deco State Theatre in Culpeper, Virginia is back in operation. A $9.3 million historic rehabilitation by the State Theatre Foundation has converted the former vaudeville movie house into a 560-seat live theatre with newly upgraded sound, building systems and performance space.

With a year-round calendar of events, the theatre will bring new economic development and excitement to downtown Culpeper. Its entertainment and educational programming--including national touring artists and local and regional theatre, dance, music and film—will serve as a major tourism draw. Theatre patrons will help fuel the local economy through their hotel stays, restaurant spending and support of local businesses, keeping historic Culpeper bustling well after dark several nights a week. The project has already helped spur further development in downtown Culpeper, with a $3 million project by a private developer now underway to create a banquet hall to complement the theatre’s programming.

The State Theatre Foundation, the nonprofit developer of the theatre, utilized approximately $1.6 million in federal historic tax credits and $1.6 million in Virginia state historic tax credits to finance the project. Since its inception, the federal historic tax credit--now threatened by tax reform debates on Capitol Hill--has brought more than $106 billion to the rehabilitation of 38,700 vacant and underutilized historic spaces while creating 2.3 million jobs.

“This project simply wouldn’t have been possible without the federal historic tax credit,” said Ed Bednarczyk, executive director, The State Theatre Foundation. “The equity provided by this program made it possible for us to complete the financing. Without it, there’s a very strong possibility the theater would still be vacant, and a drag on Culpeper’s ongoing revitalization.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has spearheaded an ambitious multi-year campaign to raise awareness of the federal historic tax credit’s importance. John Leith-Tetrault, president of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, the for-profit subsidiary of the National Trust and a tax credit investor in the project added, “The State Theatre has all the ingredients of the type of project that the historic tax credit was designed to support: an iconic historic building, great community benefit and a top-notch rehabilitation that would be difficult, if not impossible, to finance using only conventional sources. We are already seeing the important community revitalization impact of this project. The federal historic tax credit is an essential catalyst for keeping our historic downtowns vital and dynamic.”
The theatre kicked off its week-long grand opening celebration with a sold-out performance by Virginia native Bruce Hornsby on May 4 and will culminate with a Grand Opening Gala featuring Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group on May 11. A ribbon cutting ceremony that is free and open to the public will be held at 5:30 today in the lobby of the theatre, 305 S. Main St.

More information on the historic tax credit is available at



The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places., @SavingPlaces