In 1965, the Women’s Division of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce saw beyond the dust and decay of an
old movie house and saw a legitimate theatre and civic auditorium that would host visiting artists
and provide a training arena for aspiring area thespians and artists.
After negotiating and signing a lease, the dream-makers sold “stock” at $25 each, and The Gallery
Theatre, Inc. was born. Following several months of extensive clean up and a few structural improvements
to the building, volunteers began producing plays, sponsoring art exhibits (many times with local artists),
and hosting other cultural events. Dedicated officers and board members kept activities moving through
both good and bad times.
On January 1, 1982, the building officially became the property of The Gallery Theatre, Inc.
This acquisition was made possible through stock sales, private and corporate donations, and the support
of the Town of Ahoskie.
With renewed vigor, The Gallery began to restore the building. This effort was assisted handsomely in
1983 by the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts. Between 1987 and 1988, the lobbies were
completely renovated, air conditioning and heating systems installed, a permanent sign was erected,
the stage was rewired, and an electric lighting board was purchased. Financing was provided by grants,
stock sales, and other community contributions.
The Theatre was again renovated during the 1940s. The stage was enlarged and a new proscenium arch added.
The balcony was extended and rebuilt at a steeper angle to accommodate sight lines. A ventilation system
was added which was considered a sign of "remarkable ingenuity." Extra entrances, stairways, and ticket
booths were added. These were discreetly removed from principal traffic and are testimony to the racial
segregation which prevailed during that period.
The Gallery was awarded a Rural Incentive Grant for 1991-93 which provided funds for stage improvements
and implemented funds raised for a sound system honoring Ennis Tayloe. Also, the executive director’s
position was expanded to a full-time position.
In 1992, Ruth M. Bouldin and Jessie M. Curry donated a lot on Mitchell Street to The Gallery in memory
of their grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Jesse H. Mitchell, and their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carl H. Mitchell.
An annex connecting to the rear wall of the stage providing work and storage space and new dressing rooms
was built. Financing was provided through grants from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Hanes Foundation, and
Bryan Family Foundation, and through local contributions.
While the building has undergone some changes, The Gallery’s purpose - to promote and advance cultural
interest in living theatre, art, music, and crafts - has remained unchanged. Let us always be proud of
the organization’s founders and their foresight, courage, and determination to build a more culturally