Hickory Municipal Building/Hickory Community Theatre
Originally constructed between 1920 and 1921, this building is situated on the west edge of Hickory's historic commercial district. The building housed the city's administrative offices from 1921 to 1977, when these offices were relocated to the current municipal building. Since 1947, the municipal building has also been utilized by the Hickory Community Theatre, who renovated the building from 1984-87 and in 2013, when major renovations to restore significant sections of the building began. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 18th, 2000, for its architectural and political significance. Today, the building is still utilized by the Hickory Community Theatre as a performance space.
Backstory and Context
Charles Christian Hook, one of the most prominent North Carolinian architects of the early twentieth century, began planning the design of the municipal building in 1919, with construction taking place from 1920-21. It was designed in the Classical Revival style, with such features as the front-facing portico. Between the fall of 1921 and February 15th, 1977, the city's administrative offices were located in the building, and this time frame correlates with the waxing and waning of the economic power of the historic commercial district of Hickory, NC. For example, by 1968, the Catawba Mall opened down US 70, which resulted in less commercial activity in downtown Hickory.
The building also housed the fire department, which utilized all three floors in the northwest corner, the jail, with a maximum capacity of 22 prisoners, and police department, which was housed on the first two floors in the southeast corner. Starting in 1949, the building was also utilized by the Hickory Community Theatre. Previously, in 1947, Buddy Deal, a college student and touring actor, planted the seeds of what would ultimately become the Hickory Community Theatre, which held its first performance on May 24, 1949, in the Hickory City Auditorium within the municipal building. The auditorium was designed with a seating capacity of 1,160, and there are 343 lights on when the auditorium is fully lit. When the administrative offices moved, the Hickory Community Theatre shared the building with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments; however, by 1987, the Hickory Community Theatre became the sole occupant of the building.
Between 1984 to 1987, the theatre consulted architect Craig M. Copper to create renovation plans for the auditorium, dressing rooms, and stage. The electrical and mechanical systems were also improved. In 2013, a second wave of major renovations began that would restore the original box office, the Fireman's kitchen, and bathrooms.
The building was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 18th, 2000, for being deemed architecturally and politically significant. Today, the building is still solely occupied and utilized by the Hickory Community Theatre as a performance space.
About, Hickory Community Theatre. Accessed September 18th 2019. http://hickorytheatre.org/about/.
(former) Hickory Municipal Building, National Register of Historic Places. January 10th 2000. Accessed September 18th 2019. https://files.nc.gov/ncdcr/nr/CT0519.pdf.
Hickory Municipal Building, National Register of Historic Places. February 18th 2000. Accessed September 18th 2019. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=faac31ff-c8ba-4cfe-a71a-9984a6fadcdf.