After Hurricane Floyd destroyed the old community playhouse, the City of Rocky Mount selected Clark Nexsen to replace the theater with a new building in the redeveloped Imperial Centre. The original Imperial Tobacco Plant and the Braswell Library building occupy the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Imperial Centre building is a massive structure constructed in the early 1920’s of load bearing brick and heavy timber as was typical of that building type. The new Imperial Centre Theatre responds to this context using simple forms and a metal skin that complement the historic industrial character of the Imperial Centre, while at the same time maintaining its own identity.
The new facility houses the city of Rocky Mount’s active community theater program and a variety of performance types including drama, musical theater, music, dance, and lectures. The new auditorium seats approximately 280 patrons on a steeply raked slope in order with another 10 seats in boxes to either side for a total of 300. An orchestra pit accommodates 25-30 musicians and when covered with a pit filler approximately 20 more chairs can be added to the audience.
The backstage facilities include a wardrobe shop, a set shop, three chorus dressing rooms, two private dressing rooms with a shared bath, and a green room/lounge. A loading dock allows deliveries directly into the set shop with direct access to the stage.