Newly renovated Newberry Opera House Photo courtesy Newberry House Foundation
Newberry Opera House
Renovation of an imposing French Gothic "opera
house" in 1998 was the center of a successful community
revitalization effort for downtown Newberry.
After losing its textile and lumber industries, the
small town of 11,000 was slowly dying. Following the closing of its
last main business, Belks Department Store, in 1994, most of the
historic eight-block downtown area was empty and deteriorating.
Civic leaders believed that restoring Newberry's most notable
structure would inspire similar projects in the area. More than six
million dollars in private money and grants was raised to fund the
restoration project, conducted by the Craig Caulden Davis
The original 1882 "opera house" had been designed by
by G.L. Norman as a community and civic building in a style unique
to the period. The first floor housed two stores, a fire station, a
council chamber, clerk's office, and a police office with three
cells. The second floor held a performance hall and stage. The
building's renovation devoted the entire building to its function
as a theater. The first floor was redesigned with two grand
entrance lobbies, restrooms, a catering area, and a box office. On
the second floor are 427 theater seats that are historic
reproductions, a proscenium stage, and a horseshoe balcony.
As planned, the opera house project inspired other
renovation in the area, including the bank and courthouse
buildings. After half of the downtown structures were restored, the
city formed an architectural review board. Now downtown has a
bistro, shops, restaurants, a bed and breakfast, and
Since its reopening, musical performances at the
Newberry Opera House have ranged from Gilbert & Sullivan's
The Pirates of Penzance and
The Mikado, Rossini's
The Barber of Seville, and Strauss'
Fledermaus, to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Vienna Boys
Choir, Judy Collins, The Lettermen; and Glenn Campbell.
Documentation includes numerous newspaper and
magazine articles, promotional material, and posters.
Originally submitted by: Ernest F. Hollings, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.