Making Baton Rouge a Better Place

Learn about the generations of the Manship family who turned a passion for the performing arts into a centerpiece of the Baton Rouge community.

The Manship Family

Opened in 2005 as part of Baton Rouge's Shaw Center for the Arts, The Manship Theatre offers an extraordinary range of arts and cultural experiences to people of all ages, presented in a uniquely intimate setting. The not-for-profit facility is named in honor of Douglas Lewis Manship, Sr., the son of Charles Manship, Sr. Venues include the 325-seat Main Theater, the Hartley/Vey Studio and Workshop Theatres, and The Gallery at Manship Theatre.

History of the Manship Family

The Manship Family patriarch, Charles Manship Sr., purchased Baton Rouge’s first daily newspaper, the State-Times, in 1909. He launched the Morning Advocate, sister publication to the State-Times, 16 years later in 1925. Manship established his newspapers on the most sacred of all journalistic principles- factual integrity and respect for fairness in presenting balanced news coverage. His business philosophy was a simple one: “Invest in the best people and in the latest technology.”

Charles Manship Jr. assumed the helm when his father died in 1947. He embarked on his newspaper career in the 1930s. Manship earned a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and an M.B.A from Harvard. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Manship never failed to share his wealth, wisdom and energy to help make Baton Rouge a better place for all of its citizens. He was particularly proud of his association with LSU and his support of the LSU School of Journalism. “Mr. Charles” died in 1994 after serving some 60 years in the business he loved.

Douglas L. Manship Sr., namesake of Manship Theatre, was the third member of his family to lead media operations. Early in his career he wrote for the State-Times and Morning Advocate. Manship served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, and returned to Baton Rouge convinced that television was an exciting new medium for the future. He was a pioneer in the Baton Rouge television industry, and by 1955 his dream became a reality when WBRZ officially signed on the air, adding a significant dimension to the Manship’s multimedia holdings. In 1970, he left the television station to replace his brother, Charles Manship Jr., as publisher of the State-Times and Morning Advocate. In his nearly 50 years of journalistic management and leadership, Douglas Manship Sr. distinguished himself as an industry innovator, an independent, influential thinker, and a forceful, articulate advocate of American press freedoms. He died in 1999. His love for the arts inspired this theatre’s dedication by his family.