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Our Story

The Origin and History of The Legacy Theater

​The Legacy Theater proudly celebrates its ninth year in Carthage, IL, in 2024 offering quality live entertainment and educational programming for the tri-state area. How The Legacy Theater began is an interesting saga.


The Legacy Theater has a long history as part of two prominent educational institutions that began here in Carthage: Carthage College (CC) 1870-1962 and Robert Morris College (RMC) 1965-1989. The building that is now The Legacy Theater was completed in 1953. The facility was used by both CC and RMC for their music and drama departments, for graduations, for movies, for large meetings, and CC used it as their Chapel. RMC renamed the building Bryan Auditorium. 

After the departure of RMC in 1989, came a series of owners who let the campus fall into disrepair including Bryan Auditorium.  In 2007, Prairieland Investment Group purchased the campus and in 2008 gifted Bryan Auditorium to Carl Sandburg College (CSC) which operated a branch campus in Carthage. CSC district passed bonds for capital improvements and renovated the Auditorium renaming it Thomas A. Schmidt Charger Community Center.  

In 2016, CSC sold the auditorium property to the City of Carthage. That same year, The Legacy Theater Foundation Inc. was formed and a rebranding process began. The Legacy Theater’s mission was to bring a varied schedule of outstanding live entertainment to the area. 

By The Legacy Theater's 5th anniversary, numerous milestones were achieved including strong donor support, attendance by 22 bus groups and over 21,000 patrons from 31 states and Canada, as well as major improvements to the stage floor, balcony, sound and lighting.


2023 marked two more significant milestones for The Legacy Theater. On May 9, 2023, the Carthage City Council approved an agreement allowing the Legacy Theater Foundation to pay $100 and take ownership of the theater. The city had made several major improvements to the building during their ownership and committed additional financial support of the theater following the transition of ownership. As owner of the building, the foundation became better positioned to compete for grants and make additional future improvements to the facility. Then in late 2023, the foundation hired its first full time professional, Thomas Robbins, named Executive Director on December 15, 2023. Robbins’ 30-plus years of career experience in arts management promises to take The Legacy Theater to its next level of development.

The theater seats 525 including the balcony, which seats 80. The balcony also offers space for serving food and beverages for social gatherings. Backstage facilities include men’s and women’s dressing rooms, a “green room,” plus a backstage area with double doors opening to an elevated loading dock for ease of moving equipment in and out of the theater. In early 2024, The Legacy Theater added a new, state of the art, digital marquee at the front of the building, further enhancing the building’s curb appeal.

The Legacy Theater’s mission is to Inspire, Enrich, Educate and Entertain. 

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