Home Down In Front Down In Front – 1891 Fredonia Opera House

Down In Front – 1891 Fredonia Opera House

Down In Front – 1891 Fredonia Opera House

This week’s column is brought to you by the letters ‘K’ and ‘G.’ K for Holy sweet glazed deliciousness! They are building a Krispy Kreme donut shop right down the street from my house! G for my new best friend, Gym as I have a feeling I will be paling around with him about 6 times a week now that they are building said Krispy Kreme….

So, I decided to take a break from the usual drive in movie theater history article today and write about one of those other interesting theaters I keep alluding to. I found the 1891 Fredonia Opera House.

The Fredonia Opera House and Village Hall was planned and put together by architect Enoch Curtis in April 1891. Because he was so well-known in the area, he was able to put his “Queen Anne Eclectic” style which he added much more to in the theater. He put bits and pieces of different styles from all over the world. Over time, most things had to be refurbished but they are still there. Gas lighting was changed to electric. They switched the original folding wooden chairs to bigger Heywood-Wakefield seats. New projection booth, new motion picture equipment, and new stairs to the balcony were all added. Unfortunately,because of long periods of neglect, the Opera House was in such a state of disrepair and deterioration that it had to be closed in 1981.

By 1983, the plan came down to demolish the building and raised such a ruckus that the Fredonia Preservation Society was formed to lobby for the building’s restoration. By 1985, Village Trustees decided to float a bond to restore its administrative portions and was fully supported by public referendum. The Society was committed to raising funds to renovate the Opera House. They received funding by a locally-conducted capital construction campaign, an Environmental Quality Bond Act grant through New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, several smaller state grants, help from the Gebbie Foundation, and from the Village. Numerous significant amounts of volunteer contributions of labor and material were donated. Almost $90,000 was raised and now another century of multi purpose community cultural entertainment can be found at the Fredonia Opera House.

Since the opening of the Opera House in 1891, a dream for the Village officials was realized. It was a dream shared by many 19th century towns and communities who felt isolated could now see performing arts and other events that were once available only in major cities. Since the beginning of Fredonia’s Opera House over one hundred years of life it has been the home of all kinds of entertainment. From Hamlet, political oratory, talent shows, to family movie night, you can find it all at Fredonia Opera House!

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Stephanie Stebbins Stephanie Stebbins is a native of Virginia Beach, VA but is currently living in the land of poofy bangs and bitchin’ Camaros that is Fort Worth, Texas. She is married to a United States Navy service member and has two children she affectionately refers to as Thing One and Thing Two. Currently she is a blogger: http://stephinfectionisinyourhead.blogspot.com but plans on world domination as all bloggers secretly do. She thoroughly enjoys tomatoes, but is not a fan of liver.


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