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Stonington Opera House

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Area  less than one acre
NRHP Reference #  91001509
Phone  +1 207-367-2788
Built  1912 (1912)
Opened  1912
Added to NRHP  16 October 1991
Stonington Opera House
Location  NW corner of Main St. and School St., Stonington, Maine
Address  1 Opera House Ln, Stonington, ME 04681, USA
Similar  City Theater, Deertrees Theatre, St Lawrence Arts Center, Waldo Theatre, Barnstormers Theatre

Stonington opera house theater on the coast

The Stonington Opera House is a theatrical venue at the corner of Main and School Streets in the center of Stonington, Maine. Built in 1912, it is one of a small number of early 20th-century performance halls in the state. It is home to Opera House Arts, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the building, which stages theatrical productions and screens films. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.


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Description and history

The Stonington Opera House is set in the town's central business district, on a rock outcrop across Main Street from the main pier. The building has two sections, the more prominent one being the tall southern portion, on which a large sign proclaim's the building's name. This section is framed in wood, finished in clapboards, and is topped by a hip roof. It houses the stage area, including wings and dressing rooms. To the north is a lower gable-roofed ell, which houses the seating area and lobby. The main entrance is located at the north end of the building, while there is a secondary entrance on the east side of the tall south block. Distinctive interior features include a surviving 1910s projection booth, which is lined with asbestos tile and designed to be isolatable in the event that unstable nitrate-based film stock (used in early-generation films) caught fire.

The theater was built in 1912, on the site of an earlier hall which was destroyed by fire in 1910. It continued the practice of the earlier facility, hosting theatrical productions, lectures, and community events. Its floor was covered with removable folding chairs, so that the space could be used for dances and other social events. Its diverse uses included town meetings, basketball games, and roller skating. It was fitted for screening films around 1918, which came to dominate its uses in the mid-20th century. Unlike other early theaters, which were generally incorporated into municipal buildings, this one was specifically built as a profit-making venture, and was designed to accommodate elaborate theatrical productions, and is probably the oldest of this type in the state.

After a period of decline, the building was rehabilitated in 1979, but closed again in the late 1980s. It was again updated and reopened by Opera House Arts, a local nonprofit, in 2000, and is once again used primarily for film screenings and theatrical productions.


Stonington Opera House Wikipedia

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