310 Chestnut St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Since its construction in 1855-1858, the City Hall/ Thalian Hall building has had the unusual distinction of serving as both the area's political and cultural center. Listed on the National Register for Historic Places, Thalian Hall is the only surviving theatre designed by John Montague Trimble, one of America's foremost 19th-century theatre architects. It was built at a time when Wilmington was the largest city in the state. The new building housed the town government, the library, as well as a "Opera House", seating 1,000 people, which was 10% of the population of the City. Wilmington had been a center of theatrical activity since the end of the 18th century.
By 1930 the great days of touring road shows were over and Thalian Hall was used much less frequently, though many local activities, including amateur theatre presented by a re-organized Thalian Asociation, continued to occur there. There were several close calls with demolition in the 1930's and 40's, but the citizens of the community always rallied for its preservation. Following a small fire in the auditorium in 1973, the theatre was restored to its turn of the century appearance.
After reopening in 1975, Thalian Hall witnessed a dramatic increase in use by professional artists and community groups, and audience attendance rose. In 1983, under the direction of the Thalian Hall Center
for the Performing Arts, Inc., a Master Plan for the expansion of the theatre and the renovation of the stage house was developed. The citizens of Wilmington overwhelmingly passed a $1.7 million bond issue for the Thalian Hall Renovation and Expansion Project in 1985.
hanks to the magnificent response by the state and the private sector, over $2 million was generated for the effort, with the City of Wilmington providing the remainder of the funds. Construction on the $5.0 million project began in 1988, and took 18 months to complete. The expanded Thalian Hall/ City Hall complex reopened on March 2, 1990.