210 Pittsboro Street
Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-6210

T 919-962-2091
F 919-962-2279

Fact Sheet

For immediate use 

Sept. 8, 2005 -- No. 401

"New" Memorial Hall showcases
best of rich history, modern attributes


The building is now air-conditioned. A room below the auditorium is filled with air that is pushed up to make for a nearly silent system. The custom-built unit itself is as big as an 18-wheeler truck and was lowered in by a crane through the roof.

Seven dressing rooms can host 45 people. One is at stage level; the rest are in the new basement. Previously, there were four dressing rooms for 21 people.

Ramps, elevators and restrooms as well as an assisted listening system are all new, enhancing access and enjoyment for disabled patrons. There are two elevators Ė one for people; one for freight.

The large chandelier is original to the hall. It was removed and restored, with four smaller chandeliers custom-made as part of the renovation effort, to complement the larger one. The chandeliersí motif is also picked up in the lobby rug and two new chandeliers on the portico.

The new marble floor in the lobby was mined from the same quarry as the original marble used in the building in the early 1930s.

Original to the hall, the Lux Libertas seal that hangs above the stage was removed, restored and painted. The first one was installed when the building was opened in the 1930s but was later replaced.

Bench seating was replaced in the 1950s, taking the hall from 1,632 seats to 1,434 seats. More than 500 of the current 1,434 seats have been named for donors. Naming opportunities are still available at $5,000 per seat.

The center aisle has been removed to provide better sight lines.

The orchestra pit is an area that is six feet by 48 feet now raises and lowers in complete silence.

Lobby, concession, coat check and box office are all new spaces.

Coat check is $1 per item; concessions will be offered in the lobby and will vary by performance.

There are six restrooms compared with two previously.


The UNC Board of Trustees approved a design in May 2001. After designs were completed and bids selected, construction began in May 2003. The project was officially completed last month.

Architects: Calloway Johnson Moore & West, Winston-Salem

General Contractor: T.A. Loving Co., Goldsboro

Through this renovation project, the building has more than doubled in size.

Total space is now 44,640 square feet. (19,830 square feet of renovated space; 22,260 square feet of new space)

Additions include lobby and reception space, stage space and a new basement.


$10.8 million, Higher Education Bond Referendum passed in 2000 by N.C. voters.

$5.1 million, private donations to the Carolina First Campaign

$1,381,080, University funds

$800,000, Advance planning funds from the N.C. General Assembly

TOTAL: $17,981,080


Jim and Pam Heavner of Chapel Hill led a successful effort to raise private funds for the Memorial Hall project, topping their $5 million goal at just more than $5.1 million. George Beasley of Naples, Fla., and Carolina alumnus Don Curtis of Raleigh donated $500,000 each to that total, and the university has renamed the auditorium in their honor, the Beasley-Curtis Auditorium. Twenty-eight donors made a total of $2.3 million in major gifts to name other rooms or spaces. Other donors contributed a total of $1.8 million to name 360 seats. Seat naming opportunities still exist. For details, contact Sam Magill at (919) 962-9694 or

Gifts count toward the Carolina First Campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a comprehensive multi-year, private fund-raising campaign to support Carolinaís vision of becoming the nationís leading public university.


Central heating and air conditioning with all new equipment, compared with radiator heating before.

Square footage increased from 24,000 to more than 44,640.

East and west additions allow for an expanded lobby, where a marble floor and grand new staircases on either end are being installed.

Menís and womenís rest rooms on either side of the lobby; new and larger rest rooms on the second level, which previously housed the hallís only rest rooms.

Accessibility for the disabled is vastly improved by wider aisles, first-floor bathrooms, an elevator and three new ramps, two of them at the front entrance.

The auditorium seating configuration was improved and aisles widened for more leg room, better sight lines and greater accessibility.

New, more comfortable seats, an art gallery and a reception room.


Demolition and replacement of antiquated stage house at the rear of the building. The new, larger stage house contains new dressing rooms, a new basement and additional storage space, new mechanical equipment and an elevator, making the hall much more inviting for performers.

New stage, twice the size of the old one, with wings and new technology to allow full productions of Broadway musicals, full symphonies and ballets.

The stage is now 95 feet wide, 44 feet deep and 74 feet tall. Previous stage space was 55 feet wide, 33 feet deep and 46 Ĺ feet tall.

New lights, sound equipment, orchestra shell and other improvements allowing custom tuning for each performance.

Performances are measured in trucks. Memorial Hall can now have up to a five-truck performance Ė previously it could accommodate just 1- to 2-truck performances. The loading dock has piano storage space with climate control.


The first Memorial Hall was built in 1885 and demolished in 1930 because it was unsafe. Its cornerstone is at the easternmost column of Memorialís portico.

The current building was completed in 1931, serving as an auditorium and a memorial to David Lowry Swain, president of the university from 1835-1868 and North Carolina Governor from 1831-1835, UNC alumni who died in the Civil War and outstanding Carolina alumni and North Carolinians. Tablets on the walls bear many of their names.

Some of the tablets now displayed in the auditorium and throughout the lobbies and new additions are from the original 1885 building; the rest are from the 1931 structure. All were removed, cleaned and reinstalled.

In 1944, the alumni association funded a tablet placed in Memorial that lists alumni who died in World War I. Improvements and repairs have included an interior refurbishment in the 1970s and exterior renovations in 1986.


Photographs by Dan Sears, Carolinaís university photographer, illustrating Memorial Hallís new splendor and related attributes are available at: 

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News Services contacts: Lisa Katz, (919) 962-2093; LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589; Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595