Charleston, South Carolina, is popular for being the city of firsts. One of the remarkable first sites of the town is the Dock Street Theatre. Well, contrary to its name, it is not located in the Dock Street. This historical landmark is located in the French Quarter and is still operational.
It is also back in business now after getting restored. It is the oldest theatre the country has seen. They hold this title and also honor it proudly by hosting seasonal theatres as well as seasonal arsenal plays for the newcomers and the regular goers.
This is an amazing location if you are looking for an aesthetic place for photo shoots and an even better place if you want to catch a musical performance or a theatrical play. The Dock Street Theatre is a place that you cannot miss while visiting if you are keen on America’s history, its arts, and of course, its cultural charm.
Dock Street Theatre: It’s History
It was back in 1735 when the construction of Dock Street started. It was on 12th January 1736 when the grand opening of this grand building took place. The original location is not very far from the current location of this theatre.
The first incarnation of the theatre did not last long; the exact cause of the tragic demise of the theatre is still not clear. However, the Charleston fire that took place in 1740 burned the building to ashes.
Another theatre took its place after Dock Street was burned down. That theatre ran for more than forty years. It was closed during the 1780s. The reason behind the theatre closing was the construction of the grand theatre, which was just around the corner.
The Planter’s Hotel
The Calders created the Planter’s hotel almost after 30 years in 1809. it was in 1835, almost after 25 years, that the building was renovated. The building that stands today as the Dock Street Theatre has striking elements and an enduring style during this renovation. After the renovation of 1835 was complete, the hotel became popular as one of the preeminent hotels in Charleston.
The Fall Of The Hotel
The hotel was having a successful time, but soon after, a series of unfortunate events disrupted everything. First, it was the Civil War. During the war, Charleston was heavily harmed, and it affected the major part of the hotel.
After the end of the war, the luxurious hotel became the next target for the city’s economy. The hotel was already neglected, and it saw more damage because of the devastating earthquake that took place in 1886.
The condition of the building was worse, and its needs became too great for one man to fix all the requirements. The hotel was left abandoned without any hope for recovery, and the people of Charleston also had no choice but to leave it alone to decay. It became one of those relics that was forgotten from the antebellum era.
Rebirth Of The Hotel
The building that people knew as Planter’s Hotel was abandoned for a long period of time, almost 50 years. But it seemed like there were plans for the majestic building while stood like a witness to the city’s doings.
Those plans came about in the middle of the 1930s. During the Great Depression, an agency was created to provide jobs to the unemployed; the Work Progress Administration announced that they wanted to do something for the locals of Charleston. That was when they proposed the renovation of the building, which formerly was popular as Planter’s hotel.
This was the first step they took, not just to restore the building but towards the betterment of Charleston’s economy. They hired a lot of new workers to do this massive work. And the next step was to bring the building to its original glory.
They worked really hard and brought the building back to life, into its old days, which the building saw back in the 1830s and 40s. But this time, the building was not going to be turned into a hotel. This time the building was turned into a theatre. Keeping the history of Charleston in mind, the theatre got its name, The Dock Street Theatre.
In Present Time
The theatre was open till the year 2007. It was closed for the much-needed renovation the building required. Since WPA revived and renovated the building, it has been 70 years that no work has been done on the building.
After investing $19 million in three years, The Dock Street Theatregain reopened on March 18, 2010, for the Charlesonians.
To date, this historic building, to be precise, the theatre, is serving as a cultural touchstone to the city. It hosts full-season performances that the Charleston Stage Company produces. Apart from the plays that the theatre hosts, you will get to witness a lot of musical acts throughout the year.
Ghost Stories Of The Dock Street Theatre
The city has a history that dates back 350 years, and with that, it is also the host to numerous ghosts. It is believed that some of the infamous souls are found in the Dock Street Theatre.
It has been said that guests often witness spirits roaming around the corridors of the gigantic building. They have seen ghostly shadows on the beams and some kind of apparitions on stage as well. People wonder whose spirits these are. Could they not make it as an actor? Or did the renovations and the disasters the building faced have something to do with that?
The building has seen a lot. It is a standing witness of the city’s highs and lows. The Dock Street Theatre offers a beautiful setting for those who want to catch a memorable play or wish to see their favorite band or singer play. Just remember the address, 135 Church Street.
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