Dock Street Theatre
The Dock Street Theatre is located in the French Quarter of Charleston. The theatre opened on February 12, 1736 and was the first building in America to be erected for the sole purpose of being a theatre. The original Dock Street Theatre was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1740, and was then rebuilt in 1809 as the Planters Hotel, then rebuilt again in 2010 as the Dock Street Theater. Currently, the Dock Street Theatre is home to cultural and theatrical performances.
Backstory and Context
The original Dock Street Theatre was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1740 which also destroyed most of the French Quarter in Charleston. It was then rebuilt in 1809, along with the Planters Hotel. The Planter's Hotel was constructed on the site of the original Dock Street Theatre in 1809 by Alexander Calder and his wife. The Planter's Hotel became a popular destination for planters of the midlands of South Carolina during the horse racing season.
This hotel is believed to be the place where the famous Southern drink, Planter's Punch, originated. During this buildings run as a hotel it housed several prominent acting troupes who were housed there while they performed at the nearby theatre. One actor from these troupes was Junius Brutus Booth father of John Wilkes Booth. Allegedly, Junius Booth attempted to kill his manager at one of his stays at the hotel. It is a commonly held belief that Booth's ghost haunts the balcony of the theatre along with the ghost of a young woman named Netty.
During the 1930s the hotel was renovated as part of the City of Charleston's Works Progress Administration Project. A stage and seating area was created in the building and it was renamed for the original theatre, the Dock Street Theatre. The building underwent a significant renovation. However, much of the original structure was maintained, including the foyer and lobby. In 1973 the theatre was named to the National Register of Historic Places, and in the early 2000s, an additional 19 million dollar renovation was applied to the project. The building reopened in 2010 and now functions as a state of the art theatre.
Currently, the Dock Street Theatre is a prominent hub culture hub in Charleston. It is host to frequent art and teature festivals, as well as the Charleston Stage Company.