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About this collection

A collection of programs and ephemera representing a long history of performance and entertainment in Columbia. This collection spans the twentieth century and features playbills and programs from the historic Town Theater and other local theatrical productions as well as novelties such as dance cards, movie memorabilia and event tickets.

 

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Cover of Columbia Theatre program from December 25, 1905

Columbia Theatre programs (1905-1930)

The Columbia Theatre opened in 1900 in the newly constructed City Hall, located on the northwest corner of Main and Gervais Street across from the State House. The Columbia Theatre offered one of the largest stages in the region along with balconies, private boxes, and an orchestra pit. Notable performances included the New York production of Ben Hur in 1913, song and dance man George M. Cohan in 1922, and Columbia native and minstrel star Billy Beard, among others. In 1936 the city sold City Hall to developers, who demolished it in order to erect the Wade Hampton Hotel.

Cover of Hadassah Theater program from December 8, 1973

Hadassah Theater programs (1956-1973)

These programs were produced from 1956 to 1973 by the Columbia Chapter of Hadassah, a Jewish women's philanthropic organization. These plays were staged in order to raise funds for the national Hadassah organization which sponsors health and humanitarian initiatives in Israel.
Cover of Town Theatre program from April 12, 1989

Town Theatre programs (1921-1999)

Founded by the Columbia Stage Society in 1919, Town Theatre is the oldest, continuously performing community theater in the United States. Located at 1012 Sumter Street, its present theater is a rounded, Art Deco-style building which was constructed in 1924. From local children to theatrical greats, Town Theatre provided dramatic entertainment to Columbians through both the Depression and World War II. The Town Theatre is still in operation today.
 
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