McPherson Design Group logo
  • Attucks Theatre 1

    Attucks Theatre 1

  • Attucks Theatre 2

    Attucks Theatre 2

Attucks Theatre

Norfolk, Virginia (circa 1919)

McPherson Design Group provided field investigation and contract documents for repairs and renovation to this Theatre, which dates back to 1919. Although we were not the original Structural Engineers for the renovation, a huge design problem was uncovered during construction, and McPherson Design Group was brought in to provide a complicated heavy roof truss system to remedy the problems with the roof and exterior walls. Located on historic Church Street, one of the oldest thoroughfares in Norfolk, the Attucks Theatre was originally known during its heyday as the “Apollo Theatre of the South”. In this theater’s prime, it was the focal point of entertainment, business, and racial pride in Norfolk’s African American community.  The theater was the product of the Twin Cities Amusement Corporation, which was an enterprise of black businessmen from Norfolk and Portsmouth.  A renowned African-American architect, Harvey N. Johnson, was chosen to design the facility. The name of the theater, “Attucks” commemorates Crispus Attacks, an African-American man who was the first patriot to lose his life in the Revolutionary War at the Boston Massacre of 1770.  The newly restored fire curtain depicting this historical event that was originally created before the theater opened in 1919 can still be found hanging in the theater today. Many legendary performers including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and Redd Foxx graced the Attucks Theatre stage. In 1977, the United States Congress deemed The Attucks a National Historic Landmark and after a restoration period of three years, the theatre was reopened in 2004 by a partnership between the City of Norfolk’s Department of Cultural Facilities and the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center.