In 1854, Wilmington's town commissioners contracted for a new theater as well as a new city hall. The result was Thalian Hall, which opened in 1858 and could seat 1,000 people. The list of performers from that date down to the present reads like a who's who of national and international entertainers. Tony Rivenbark, who became the theater's executive director in 1979, has been associated with the theater over forty years--as a student at Wilmington College (now UNCW), as a performer in over seventy-five plays, and as a chronicler and preserver of the theater's history. Thalian Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.