The Turnage Theatre


The Historic Turnage Theatre is a NC designated historic site and a contributing structure in the Historic District of Washington, NC. The 32,000 square foot building houses two theaters. Built in 1913, the front of the building was originally used as a bakery and shoe store with a vaudeville playhouse on the second floor. One of its owners, C.A. Turnage renamed the building the Turnage Theater. In the mid 1930’s Turnage built a second theatre,  palace-style on the rear of the building (present day restoration shown to the left). 

For nearly 50 years, people flocked to the Turnage Theatre. But by the 1970’s, other larger movie theaters began to open in eastern North Carolina. With the neglected theater falling into disrepair, it closed its doors for the first time in 1978. Some 20 years later, a group of historic preservation enthusiasts teamed up with arts advocates to form the non-profit Turnage Theater Foundation. The goal was to acquire and renovate to historically accurate standards the crumbling Turnage. After an extensive multi-million dollar renovation, the Foundation struggled to repay two million dollars borrowed to complete the process. Increasing costs and dwindling support from individuals and corporate sponsors shuttered the Turnage Theatre again in 2011.

In 2013, the Turnage Theatre building was purchased by the Beaufort County Arts Council now called the Arts of the Pamlico. The Arts of the Pamlico is a NC state designated arts council. The Arts of the Pamlico opens the building to offerings Tuesday – Sunday, offering a beautifully restored 432-seat theater with updated sound and lighting systems, a catering kitchen, three art galleries with revolving exhibits showcasing local, regional and national artists and craftspeople, and the administrative offices of the property owners, the Arts of the Pamlico. The gallery exhibits and theatre are open to the public during operating hours and for events. Tours may be reserved by contacting the Arts of the Pamlico. The theatre facilities are also available for rent for events big and small.  For more information on renting the facilities, click here.

In 2017, AOP began a three-year project to assess and replace its rapidly failing roof that had served the building well for more than 100 years. Over $1.4 million dollars was raised through private donations, foundation grants, local, state and federal government sources and historic preservation funding to preserve the historic theatre for generations to come.

Here’s a great way to tell your friends about the Turnage Theatre



Most of us mention the Turnage Theatre whenever we’re telling friends and family all about living in Washington, NC.

Here’s a Tri-Fold brochure that you can download as a pdf file to either print or email.

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