1703 Taylor Street1703 Taylor Street
The 3,000-seat auditorium was built in 1929 and featured a convertible floor that could seat audiences or serve as a dance floor or exhibit chamber. Its design ensured that there were no bad seats by creating two “distinct visual centers,” on the main stage and the center of the main floor, that could be seen equally well from the ground level and the two balconies. This design also facilitated segregation during its first 40 years. Generally, white patrons entered through the front entrance and sat on the main floor while black patrons entered through the side entrance and sat in the balconies. This seating arrangement was only reversed when the venue’s performers were African American.
In 1946, the Township was the site of the Southern Negro Youth Congress’s annual convention, which featured speeches by W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson, and was organized in part by Modjeska Monteith Simkins. Prior to the conference, youth leaders met with senior advisors at Harbison Agricultural and Industrial College in Irmo for 10 days of training in organizing. The convention, which drew 5,000 participants, was lauded in black papers but reported by The State newspaper as a Communist gathering of subversives.