Revamped, Dock Street Theatre poised to open freshly-painted doors
CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – It may have taken three years of planning and remodeling and a construction bill totaling $20 million dollars, but the site of the oldest theatre in the U.S. has been made over and is ready to open its doors.
The Dock Street Theatre in downtown Charleston has improved lighting, new padded seats and sound-blocking windows.
Architect Joe Schmidt spent three years planning changed and making improvements at the theatre.
“We feel very confident that we’ve done everything we can and still made the building look like it originally looked,” said Schmidt.
However, behind the authentic renovations lie state-of-the-art safety systems. In fact, a lot of the makeover money went into safety improvements around the facility, many of which most visitors to Dock Street won’t see. There’s a hidden sprinkler system, taller guard rails and the entire building is more wind resistant in the event of a hurricane. Anchors were built into the roof and steel rods were installed into columns to stabilize the structure in the event of an earthquake.
“Windows will shatter. Cracks will develop. The goal was to make this building withstand it so it’s preserved and can be restored after a major earthquake. Minor earthquake? No problem,” said Schmidt.
The remodeled theatre also has increased handicap accessibility.
“They had virtually access to no space. They would come in a back way and sit in the back of the theatre, and they couldn’t get upstairs. They couldn’t get up to the ballroom, the reception areas. None of that was possible. Now it all is,” said Schmidt.
The project wasn’t about replacing old with new, though, said Schmidt.