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[photo]
Carver Theatre
Courtesy of South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office

Carver Theatre:
Columbus, South Carolina

The Carver Theatre, at 1519 Harden Street in Columbia, South Carolina, is important in the the early-to-mid twentieth century history of Columbia's black community during the later period of racial segregation in the South. It was built circa 1941, and was one of only two movie theaters exclusively for African Americans in Columbia. Since the other theater, the Capitol Theatre, has been demolished, the Carver Theatre is the only extant motion picture theater where African Americans could freely go to the movies. The Carver Theatre was adjacent to the Waverly community, the pre-eminent black neighborhood of professionals, physicians, nurses, educators, ministers, and skilled tradesmen. Members of the community have vivid recollections of the Carver Theatre.


[photo]
Carver Theatre
Courtesy of South Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
Not only were movies shown there, but also the theater had weekly talent shows, patterned after the famous "Amateur Hour" in Harlem, for young people in the area. Along Harden Street, between College and Blanding streets, was a previously undocumented series of African American owned or operated businesses like the Carver Theatre that catered to the residents of Waverly and the students at the historically black Benedict College and Allen University. The owners of the Carver Theatre are actively seeking to preserve this property as an important piece of history in Columbia and return it to its original use as a movie theater. The Carver Theatre is a two-story brick commercial building, rectangular in shape, with a flat roof and a vertical marquee over the front entrance and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 17, 2003.

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