History of Wheelwright Auditorium
On June 14, 1981, the first center for the performing arts in northeast South Carolina was dedicated. Built with a graceful Georgian design of columns and colonnades, the $3.1 million Wheelwright Auditorium was funded almost entirely by private donations from local residents and businesses, including a gift of more than $1 million from the late William A. and L. Maud Kimbel. The auditorium is named for Mrs. Kimbel's maternal grandfather, John Wheelwright, who was involved in the early 1900's with the cotton trade in South Carolina.
The auditorium was designed by Riddle and Wilkes Architects, Inc. of Myrtle Beach and was built by Dargan Construction Company of Myrtle Beach. In 2000, the auditorium underwent a half million-dollar renovation. This renovation included the placement of the Italian marble floors in the lobby and an inset of a bronze university seal. Wheelwright Auditorium boasts a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system. The lobby gleams with rose and green marble and the buffed brass university seal in the center of the floor, directly beneath the light well. The area is highlighted by a corniced oval ceiling and an ornate brass and crystal chandelier, which is suspended through an oval ceiling opening from the floor above. The second level of Wheelwright Auditorium consists of a mezzanine which opens into an open-air balcony and is surrounded by a reception room and practice rooms for the music and theater departments.