Town Theatre

1012 Sumter St., Columbia, South Carolina


Town Theatre, Facade

South Carolina Department of Archives and History

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The Columbia Town Theatre, one of the first community theatres in the United States, has made significant contributions to the arts, drama and education in South Carolina. The building was the first community theatre in the South to be designed and built specifically for use as a theatre. From its inception in 1919, Town Theatre has been one of the most ambitious and innovative community theatres in the country. Early in 1919, a group of citizens under the guidance of Daniel A. Reed formed the Columbia Stage Society. During their first season, performances were given on rented stages, but by the second season, the group had purchased and remodeled a house at 1012 Sumter Street for their use. Plans to build their own theatre were finally realized in 1924 when the present building, financed entirely by public subscription, was completed. The fašade was designed by Chicago architect, Harry Jenkins and the main body of the building was planned and constructed by Arthur W. Hamby of Columbia. Built of brick set in American bond, the fašade is symmetrical and is dominated by a two-story glazed central arch, outlined by decorative brickwork. The design of the fašade reflects the trend towards rounded forms and low relief design popular in the art deco movement. A small workshop annex constructed also of brick was built to the rear of the theatre in the 1950s. Listed in the National Register October 9, 1974. - SCDAH

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 9, 1974
Reference number
Architectural style
Modern Movement: Art Deco
Areas of significance
Education; Architecture; Performing Arts
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Period of significance
Significant year

Update Log 

  • October 20, 2014: Updated by Michael Miller: Added "Description" & "Street View" and Imported Photo
  • October 20, 2014: Photo imported by Michael Miller
  • December 29, 2011: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger