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Roper Performing Arts Center

340 Granby St
Norfolk VA

Live Theatre
Record #20844  
 Opened: May 10, 1926
Capacity: 860 seats
Architect(s): Thomas Lamb
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: State, Premier
 Previously operated by: Loews Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Vernon Cramer.

The Loews opened on May of 1926, the architect was Thomas Lamb. The Loews project was somewhat usual in that it was originally a department store, then a furniture store before it was converted into a theater. The Loews company spent over $900,000 to convert the four-story Philip Levy Furniture store into a vaudeville and movie theater. The 2,100 seat theater opened Monday after Mother's day in 1926, and the first feature was "Beverly of Graustark" starring Marion Davies and included early two-color technicolor sequences.

The theater closed in 1978, then reopened for a couple of years as a live entertainment venue but that venture closed in 1982. The theater remained vacant until it was acquired by the college. The building received a multi-million dollar restoration starting in 1999 and reopened in Fall of 2000. The theater's original seating, ceilings, leaded glass interior windows chandeliers and other surviving decorative elements were all restored (in addition, surviving decorative plaster work on the lobby walls and ceilings was also restored). Two large murals, one on each side of the theater adjacent to the box seating, still await costly restoration work. Sadly, the original ornate fire curtain had deteriorated beyond the point of restoration and could not be saved. New, state of the art sound and lighting equipment as well as new stage rigging were installed. The college added 35mm projection equipment in the Fall of 2001.

While the main portion of the theater was restored, the rear portion of the theater was damaged from long-term roof leaks. It was decided to leave just the first few rows of the mezzanine as part of the theater. The remaining portion was converted into meeting rooms and lecture halls. However, where possible, the surviving architectural details were restored and incorporated into these converted areas. The theater now seats 860 and has hosted a wide variety of performances from national and international artists as well as local performing arts groups.



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Last featured 2/1/2003. Last edited 2/20/2010.

 
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