Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Little Theater Clark Memorial Theatre Virginia Samford Theatre

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of 26th Street South and Hatcher Place, Birmingham, Alabama
County: Jefferson
Coordinates: N 33° 30.198    W 086° 47.211
  33.5033    -86.78685
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMD0ZV


Built in 1937 by Gen. Louis Verdier Clark from a design by architect William T. Warren as a community playhouse for cultural activities. It was recognized as one of the best of its kind in the nation. Mrs. Vassar Allen - first president, Bernard Szold - first director, Hill Ferguson and John Henley were founders.

In 1955, the building was donated by Gen. Clark's family to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and became known as the Clark Memorial Theatre. Professor James Hatcher created the Town and Gown company of performers, many of whom went on to Broadway and Hollywood. The Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham Children's Theatre and Summerfest started here. After Mr. Hatcher's death, the theatre's future became uncertain and the building closed in 1999.

In February of 2000, former T&G actress and philanthropist Virginia Samford Donovan donated the funds to the Metropolitan Arts Council to purchase the building. Arts patrons Garland Cook Smith, Betty Thurman McMahon, Charles D. McCrary, James H. Miller, III and Council director Cathy Rye Gilmore led the campaign to renovate the property. The restored theatre re-opened May 12, 2002 as the Virginia Samford Theatre.

Donated by Garland and Lathrop Smith in memory of Josephine Harris Wasson.

Erected 2004 by Birmingham-Jefferson Historical Society.

End of The Little Theater Clark Memorial Theatre Virginia Samford Theatre