The Historic North Theatre Performing Arts Center is a beautifully restored facility presenting all types of theatrical productions. The theatre originally opened in August of 1947 as Danville, Virginia’s finest movie and vaudeville house. Unfortunately for the owner, Mr. Leonard Lea, TV hit about the time of opening and he never had a vaudeville performance. The theatre remained open until 1976. After that time it was an auction house, a number of different churches, and, finally, from 1990 to 2003, Carolyn’s House of Flowers.
Because of the visionary efforts to reopen the North by local leaders, in 2003 a group was formed who purchased the theatre, a former restaurant next door with residence on the second floor, and a third building next to the restaurant, which had been a two-story residence. The president of the group was local philanthropist Roy Gignac who was also the major donor. All told, over 3.5 million dollars was spent the on the purchase and restoration of the complex which opened in 2005. They had many wonderful productions, but because of a limited marketing budget and such high restoration costs, they closed in 2010.
In September of 2011 celebrity magician Wayne Alan, America’s Only World Champion Illusionist, ( www.WayneAlanMagic.com ) discovered the North on the web and found that it was closed. Despite being five hours from his home in Annapolis, MD, something told him to look into the situation. He now feels that it was the good Lord that prodded him to pursue it. He researched ownership of the building and found that it was for sale. After a series of phone conversations and emails he would be spurred on to visit the theatre in person. On November 8, 2011 he called Mr. Gignac and was told that an offer had been made for the property. He later found that the offer had been made just five minutes before he made his call. Again he was prodded and he knew he had to make a move. The next morning he drove the five hours to Danville from his home in Annapolis. He immediately fell in love with the facility and the town of Danville.
That night the 100 year old brick façade above the restaurant part of the complex, which had been leaning away from the building when he saw it earlier in the day, collapsed. The next morning he was told by the lady at the front desk of his hotel, ”The North Theatre exploded and collapsed last night”. Most prospective buyers would have walked away then, but not Wayne Alan. When he drove over to the theatre, he discovered what he had expected. The wall did fall, but there was no other damage to the building. He also knew that the wall would have to be replaced, so gravity actually saved him thousands of dollars for demolition.