A landmark theater in Winston-Salem is about to close for a long-anticipated upgrade. The Stevens Center will host a final performance on Friday before renovations are set to begin.

The Stevens Center opened in 1929 as a silent movie theater and was once named the Carolina Theater. Following an initial renovation, it was renamed for theater producer Roger L. Stevens, and a grand reopening in 1983 featured conductor Leonard Bernstein and violinist Isaac Stern.

It has since become the primary performance space for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, as well as a hub for local arts organizations including The Winston-Salem Symphony, Piedmont Opera, and the National Black Theatre Festival.

Much of the funding for renovations has come from state appropriations and private funding.

The overhaul will include a lobby makeover, building enhancements, and technological improvements.

UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole says the evolution of this historic theater mirrors Winston-Salem’s metamorphosis into the City of Arts and Innovation.

"You go back into the history of the Stevens Center, and like 1956, Elvis Presley performed there on his first tour," says Cole. "I hope that 50 years from now, we'll be talking about other artists that were beginning their careers and beginning this whole period of creativity."

The final concert on Friday night will feature the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra conducted by alumnus Robert Franz. The building will close on November 15 for construction, and likely will not reopen for several years.

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