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2021 Award of Merit: Oxford

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

The Orpheum, Oxford NC

2021 NC Main Street Award: Design

Best Historic Rehabilitation Project

  • Stuart Paynter

  • Britnye & Cody Shore

  • CH Architects

  • hmwPreservation

  • Charles Woods Builder

The Orpheum, originally built in 1912, was constructed in a funnel shape, a feature that amplifies sound like an amphitheater. In 1941, the theater suffered a major fire and was rebuilt in 1943. From the 1940s to the 1960s, the Orpheum was used for live stage shows highlighting the region’s top western performers. The theater once had a 24-foot deep stage and three sets of curtains. The theater closed in the late 1980s and was converted into office space and storage.

In 2017, Stuart Paynter, an attorney from Hillsborough, purchased the building. In 2018, Britnye and Cody Shore, new residents of Oxford with a burgeoning events business, partnered with Paynter to rehabilitate the Orpheum for use as a wedding and event venue.

The original layout of the Orpheum was retained with its three different levels. The main floor consists of the primary event space, with a grand ceiling, accessible restrooms, and a catering prep kitchen; the Orpheum bar; and the Carolina Suite, a nod to the former Carolina Theater that once sat on Main Street in Oxford. The theater’s original Art Deco sconces and murals were located during the rehabilitation process and restored.

The Mezzanine level is the second floor that overlooks the downstairs event space and features custom metal railings and an open ceiling. The Projection Suite, previously the theater’s projection room, is on third level. Now used by grooms and their parties, it overlooks downtown Oxford and the restored Orpheum neon sign.

Area professionals, CH Architects and Charles Woods Builder, both from Hillsborough, and hmwPreservation consultants from Durham worked on the rehabilitation that was completed in 2021. The $1.7 million rehabilitation project was completed using the historic tax credit program and private investment.

In October 2021, Stuart Paynter was recognized with a Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit for the Orpheum from Preservation North Carolina.

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