“An African American History site…”
City Directories and History: The Carver Theatre is significant for its association with the history of Columbia’s black community in the early-to-mid-twentieth century. It was built ca. 1941, and was one of only two exclusively African American movie theatres in Columbia. Since the other theatre, the Capitol Theatre, has been demolished, the Carver Theatre is the only extant motion picture theatre where African Americans could freely go to the movies. The Carver Theatre was adjacent to the Waverly community, the pre-eminent African American neighborhood in Columbia. Members of the community have vivid recollections of the Carver
Theatre. Not only were movies shown here, but also weekly talent shows, patterned after the famous “Amateur Hour” in Harlem, for young people in the area. The theatre is a two-story brick commercial building, rectangular in shape, with a flat roof and a vertical marquee over the front entrance. The building is of brick construction, laid in five to one common bond, ornamented with stucco only over the front façade. The interior of the building reflects its use as a movie theatre from the early 1940s through 1971. The first floor has been renovated and the original seating removed, but the floor retains its original slant. The balcony contains the original seating and lighting. The mosaic floor and the ticket window in the lobby are original. Listed in the National Register July 17, 2003. [Courtesy of the SC Dept. of Archives and History]
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