Smyrna Opera House - Smyrna, Delaware
Posted by: barbybig
N 39° 17.975 W 075° 36.290
18S E 447848 N 4350196
Quick Description: Built in 1869, the Smyrna Opera House has had many uses, including town hall offices, a jail and movie theater, but never hosted an opera production in its public gathering space.
Location: Delaware, United States
Date Posted: 4/15/2008 11:30:44 AM
Waymark Code: WM3KCN
Built in 1869, the Smyrna Opera House has had many uses, including town hall offices, a jail and movie theater, but never hosted an opera production in its public gathering space.
Architect Richard Mitchell shaped the bell-towered landmark on land rented and then bought from Suzanna Fisler, widow of a dentist who had his practice on the corner. Town Hall and the Smyrna Opera House opened in 1870, the Delaware Public Archives says, and "for many years, it was the center of the community's civic and social activities."
Crowds came from near and far for plays, concerts, musical shows and speakers such as civil rights pioneer Frederick Douglass and U.S. presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. Events ranged from turkey dinners to traveling entertainers. The building, home to a library begun by subscription in 1858, was expanded as uses evolved to include the local jail and movie theaters.
On Christmas 1948, a blaze blamed on holiday lights burned the third floor and tower. The building was cut to two floors with a flat roof, as Turner recalls from childhood. The building's glory faded in time, with wear and little repair. After a new Town Hall opened, its future was in doubt but in 1994 an executive restoration committee got a project estimate just topping $1 million.
The project, with a new third floor, tower and annex, cost $3.6 million and took five years to complete. Donations from residents and businesses, foundation grants and allocations from the town, county, state and federal governments paid for it.
Still home to the library, the Old Town Hall and Smyrna Opera House --part of the town historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an official American Treasure site -- opened in splendor in 2003. Events have included town meetings, graduations, retirement celebrations, the Children's Theatre of Dover and Kent County, a murder-mystery dinner theater and the heritage group's annual Delawareana auction.
It's an "American Treasure" and good reason to leave the highway and explore historic Smyrna. Even without opera.
Theater Name: The Smyrna Opera House
Country: United States
7 West South Street
Smyrna, DE Kent
Web Site: [Web Link]
Venue: Community Theater
Type of Productions:
Musicals, Summer Children's Theatre, Dance Academy, Art Shows - A Multi-Use Facility.
Restored Building: yes
Date of Construction: 1869
Architect/Designer: Richard Mitchell
Stage Type: Proscenium
Seating Capacity: 200
Annual Delawareana Auction
One photo different from the one on the home page.
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