After three years of hard work and millions of dollars in renovations, the refurbished Dock Street Theatre was unveiled to the media Friday afternoon. With some of the construction dating back centuries (this was the first structure built for theatrical performances in the Americas, after all), restoration had to take place from under the ground up. Mayor Joe Riley, architects, and city officials led a tour of the theater, which is actually comprised of five connected buildings.
“We consider this a 100-year project,” said Cam Patterson, director of special facilities with the City of Charleston. “In 100 years, we hope people will look back and say, ‘Those people really knew what they were doing.’”
Renovations included retrofitting the foundation to protect against earthquakes, restoring the original brownstone and roof tiles, installing new heating and air conditioning, and making the space entirely handicap accessible with ramps and elevators. And that’s just the beginning. Artisans were brought in to carefully restore the molding and woodwork, comfortable seating was installed, additional restrooms were added, and bright, new dressing rooms were built. The cozy taproom off of the balcony was extended and will surely keep thespians well-hydrated. The courtyard has been extended with more covered area for those rainy nights. The original brick was preserved as much as possible on the ground, and the picturesque space is outfitted with a fountain, topiaries, and what we assume will be a bar area.
“We were dealing with very delicate and precious heirlooms, and we had the responsibility to make sure it was preserved,” Riley said.
The grand reopening ceremony, which will be open to the public, is set for March 18 at 7 p.m. You can find us either in the taproom or outside in the courtyard.