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Title 135 Church Street (Planters Hotel/Dock Street Theater)
Object Type Property File
Scope & Content Constructed 1809; renovated 1935-37, 2007-10. The present Dock Street Theatre includes the remnants of 18th-century buildings that were incorporated into a larger 19th-century structure. Only fragmentary brick walls remain of the 1736 theater, probably the second edifice in America constructed specifically for theatrical performances, which faced Dock Street (now Queen Street). This theater opened with a performance of the popular comedy The Recruiting Officer. Rebuilt in 1754 after a fire, the theater reopened with a production by a visiting London Company of Comedians and subsequently played host to numerous productions of operas, farces, and Shakespearean plays in the ensuing decade. The principal portion of the Planter's Hotel dates from 1809, when Alexander Calder and his wife purchased the property and moved the hotel operation to this address (Calder was an ancestor of the famous 20th-century sculptor Alexander Calder). The city's first major hotel was a "merry place" and provided lodging for notable visitors to the city as well as wealthy upcountry planters who brought their families and servants to Charleston for several weeks in February to take in the social season and attend the horse races. Noted for its service and cuisine, the hotel is reputed to be the birthplace of planter's punch. The entry porch has unusual banded brownstone columns topped with heavily carved wooden brackets and balcony added in the mid-19th century. In 1935 the city of Charleston restored the building as part of an innovative Works Progress Administration project. At this time an 18th-century style theater interior was created by architect Albert Simons and the building was refit with exuberant Neoclassical woodwork from the demolished Radcliffe-King House. The Dock Street Theater today serves as home to a local theatrical company and hosts numerous other performances, particularly during the Spoleto Festival.

File contains narrative histories (Architectural Guide to Charleston, Vernacular Architecture of Charleston & the Lowcountry, etc.); newspaper articles; documents related to effort to list Theater on the National Register and proposed renovations, including correspondence between Albert Simons, Mayor Gaillard, and SC Dept. of Archives & History, and a report on proposed renovations; Works Progress Administration "Work News" (Feb. 1937) about the Dock Street Theater restoration, 1935-37; letter from Charleston Parks Department to HCF and specs relating to exterior painting, 1992; rededication program (4/1/2010).
Subjects Historic buildings--South Carolina--Charleston
Dock Street Theater (Charleston, S.C.)
Planters Hotel (Charleston, S.C.)
Search Terms Church Street
Civic Square
National Register of Historic Places
Physical Description 1 File Folder
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Object ID # CHURCH.135.1