The oldest building on UofL’s Belknap Campus, the Playhouse was constructed in 1874 as a chapel for the House of Refuge, a municipal institution for orphaned children. It was first used as a theater in 1925.
In 1977, the Playhouse was dismantled and placed in storage to make way for UofL’s William F. Ekstrom Library. It reopened in 1980 at its current location and was dedicated as the Playhouse. Woodford Porter, UofL’s first African-American board chair, presided over the dedication.
With 344 seats, the Playhouse is home to performances by the university’s acclaimed African-American Theatre program. It also houses special events, including the annual celebration of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Playhouse is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.