The University of South Carolina is currently renovating the exterior of Longstreet Theatre with completion set for mid-August prior to the start classes in the fall.
The renovations, which officially received approval to begin on March 1, 2023, have a project budget of $975,000 and focus on the east and north sides of the building.
The theatre, especially its wood trim and terracotta features, requires maintenance periodically according to Derek Gruner, the university architect and associate vice president of facilities planning, design and construction.
“A project like this just has to come along every 20 or 30 years to look at the building and correct any cracks that are in the stucco, remove any flaking paint, repair wood trim that the wood has deteriorated and paint everything so it looks fresh again,” Gruner said.
The renovations also include the addition of downspouts to aid with water drainage.
“We’re adding some downspouts, so the water running off the roof gets into the pipes better and is taken down in the downspouts and then into an underground storm drain system so it’s piped away,” Gruner said.
Gruner said he also expects the renovations to make the exterior look more aesthetically presentable and enhance the existing structure.
“The building has looked a little tired the last couple of years with the paint that is flaking off the wood and when the project is done the building is going to really look crisp, and it should be pretty striking,” Gruner said.
The building, which is home to the university’s theatre program, was completed in 1855 and takes inspiration from a Roman structure, according to Gruner.
“It actually takes its inspiration from a Roman building in a town called Nîmes, France,” Gruner said. “It takes its inspiration from a building that was nearly 2,000 years old, and it’s a pretty, pretty close copy. You can really kind of see how the influence of that Roman building shaped Longstreet.”
The theatre program, however, has temporarily lost the ability to advertise its upcoming productions on the front steps of the building during construction according to Lisa Gavaletz, an instructor of stage management in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
“We use the front facade to put up posters and advertisements for what the department is doing and now that the scaffolding is up, it’s a little bit more difficult for us to promote ourselves,” Gavaletz said.
Andie Lowe, a fourth-year theatre student said she has noticed that the renovations are also impacting senior pictures, as many theatre students plan to take photos in front of the building before graduating.
“I think for a couple theatre majors, it’s kind of a bummer because a lot of us take pictures out in front of Longstreet,” Lowe said.
However, senior instructor and assistant technical director in charge of set construction Sam Gross feels that the renovations are necessary despite the inconveniences that come along with them.
“Even though it might be a minor annoyance to some people, it’s something that needs to be done. The building is over 200 years old, and so the university putting any money into maintaining and repairing and cleaning up I think is a good thing,” Gross said.