Former Wilson Vaudeville House Returns as Theater
Posted January 28, 1998
WILSON — Developers in just about any community will testify that convincing people to spend time downtown is a tough sell. Empty storefronts present an uninviting face toward a discriminating public. But, there is a North Carolina town that's investing money and time to turn one of its oldest buildings, into its newest attraction.
Executive Director of the Wilson Arts Council, Janice Aycock, says the building has a rich history.
In its day, the Wilson theater was the place to be seen in eastern North Carolina. But, like other downtown businesses across our state, it fell into disrepair over the years. This weekend, the theater will re-open, thanks to the contributions and work of hundreds of supporters.
Arts Council member John Hackney says the renovation is a great example of recycling.
Organizers want their future audiences to appreciate the details of the building's history, like the intricate artwork on every wall.
Even some long-time supporters might be surprised to find that the old theater has a balcony. It was there all along, but had been covered up a few years back. Renovators came in and brought the theater back to life, nearly doubling the number of seats.
The building cost less than $1 million to fix, but only because so much of the labor and materials were free. Volunteers say it's worth the effort because the new theater will shed new light on a downtown that is making a comeback.
The Boykin Cultural Center officially opens Friday at 5 p.m. with a ribbon cutting. It will house concert is Saturday. The Dorsey Brothers orchestra and the Platters begin playing at 8 p.m.