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"I could get in for a nickel": Columbia resident remembers Carver Theatre in its prime, looks forward to restoration

Allen University says they plan to restore the Carver Theatere in downtown Columbia.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jean Hopkins has lived in Columbia for more than 90 years now, and still remembers visiting the Carver Theatre as a little girl.

"The movies were always fun," Hopkins said. "It used to be a nickel to get in, but we always had to do our chores first before we went."

RELATED: Allen University to restore historic Carver Theatre on Harden Street

The theater was built in 1941 and showed movies, hosted performances, and served as an entertainment hub for Columbia's African-American community. Eric Friendly with Historic Columbia says the building is a sacred space for those who have enjoyed it over the years.

"This place was a safe place where Columbia's African-American residents could go to during Jim Crowe and be themselves," Friendly explained. 

However, the theater closed in 1971 and changed hands to owner Julius Murray. The theater stayed open over the years eventually serving the agape church and was placed on the national register of historic places in 2003. 

The building was eventually sold to Allen University to be used as an auditorium but now they plan to restore the theatre to its former glory.

RELATED: Coming to a theater near you: $3 movie tickets for one day

Hopkins says she would be thrilled to see the theater as it once was when she was a child.

"We would run to get there to see the movie series they would show and it was always fun... I'm glad they are keeping the history and that it's staying in the community," she said.

Allen University says they are still in the preliminary planning stages for the building but hope to make it something for the community to reminisce and enjoy.

The University wants to reopen the theatre within the next year and a half. It will serve as a first-run cinema and will also be used for local meetings, presentations, and other entertainment. 

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