Wilson Butler Restores Richmond Theater

Altria Theater

Altria Theater / Anton Grassl/Esto

Richmond, VA – Arts and entertainment designers Wilson Butler Architects of Boston completed a $63 million, phased renovation of the historic 1927 Altria Theater in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Working in collaboration with the Richmond Performing Arts Center, the project team restored the Altria Theater to its original grandeur while upgrading and expanding the building’s hospitality spaces, building infrastructure, performance venues, and patron amenities.

Partly funded by state and federal historic tax credits, the restoration provides space for pre- and-post-performance activities in several restored “parlor rooms” and in a 15,700sf grand ballroom that will host private events. Inside the theater, an audience capacity of 3,600 people allows the Altria to present shows by top-tier contemporary artists and theater companies seeking to perform in the largest performing arts venue between Atlanta and New York City.

Built by the Shriners in 1927 and designed in a distinct Moroccan style, the theater was known as The Mosque by generations of theater goers.

Altria Theater

Altria Theater Auditorium / Anton Grassl/Esto

Hotel rooms, a ballroom, meeting rooms, a swimming pool, even a bowling alley and shooting range, were included in the original building program. The Mosque was purchased by the city of Richmond in 1940.

The restoration included repairs and refurbishing of the five-story façade, including its historic terra cotta details and decorative tile work, which were authentically restored. The lobby fountain was creatively adapted with blue crushed glass to replace water and ensure patron safety. Interior light fixtures, paint, tiles, and finishes were restored based on historic photographs and research to bring these ornate features back to their original 1920s appearance.

“The Altria Theater truly is a treasure and a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Bruce Herrmann AIA, director of Wilson Butler Architects.