Playmakers Theater (Smith Hall)

Designed by architect Alexander Jackson Davis, Playmakers Theatre is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most significant architectural works on campus. Built in 1850 as a combination library and ballroom, the building was named for its benefactor, Benjamin Smith. A significant architectural feature is the use of wheat and corn decorations on the column capitals instead of the traditional acanthus leaves. Over the years the building housed a chemistry laboratory, and in 1893 it became the university bath house, with six tubs installed for 500 students. The law school occupied the building until 1925, when the university turned it into a theater for the Carolina Playmakers, with the help of a grant from the Carnegie Corporation. It was the main indoor performing space for the Carolina Playmakers until the Paul Green Theatre opened in 1978. Playmakers Theatre continues to be used as a performance space, despite its lack of accessible restrooms and air conditioning.


Date Established: 1850

Date Range: 1850 – Present

Playmakers Theatre, then known as Smith Hall, was the home of the UNC School of Law at the time of this 1915 photo. Durwood Barbour Postcard Collection, North Carolina Collection Photo Archives, Wilson Library.