Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall is Carolina's main performing arts venue and the second building to bear the name and the marble tablets inside. The first Memorial Hall was built in 1885 as a new assembly space for a growing university. It was a combination memorial to the late UNC president David Lowry Swain, alumni who died fighting for the Confederacy, and notable men (and, later, women) of the state. University leaders raised money to build the hall through the sale of marble tablets to commemorate this last group, which they then displayed on its walls. That first building was eventually declared structurally unsound, and in 1930 the university demolished it and erected the present Colonial Revival building. They preserved the marble tablets and placed them into the new building, although not in their original organization. Currently, more than one hundred and sixty marble tablets grace the walls.

Memorial Hall has been the site of commencements, baccalaureates, University Days, speeches, protests, and performances of all kinds. A renovation in 2005 finally gave the hall a fly system, off-stage areas, dressing rooms, and most important, air conditioning. Memorial Hall is the main performance space for Carolina Performing Arts, which brings to campus an array of productions by prominent and popular performing artists from around the world.


Date Established: 1931

Date Range: 1931 – Present

In this photo, taken between 1896 and 1905, the original Memorial Hall is visible on the right, with Old West, South Building, and Gerrard Hall (right to left) in the background. Collier Cobb Photo Collection, North Carolina Collection Photo Archives, Wilson Library.