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Mauch Chunk Opera House

Not Rated Not Rated

14 W Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
http://mauchchunkoperahouse.com
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(570) 325-0249
 
History: In 1881, the community of Mauch Chunk, PA called for a new market and town hall, as it had quickly outgrown the existing wood-frame structure. Initially, the Mauch Chunk Opera House featured both an open-air farmers market on the first floor...read more
History: In 1881, the community of Mauch Chunk, PA called for a new market and town hall, as it had quickly outgrown the existing wood-frame structure. Initially, the Mauch Chunk Opera House featured both an open-air farmers market on the first floor and a second-story concert hall, and a magnificent Romanesque tower in the front of the building. Addison Hutton, a Philadelphia architect who often visited Mauch Chunk, designed the building. The dedicated citizens of Mauch Chunk paid for and built the structure so they could enjoy professional performances in their own town. Construction began in August of 1881 and amazingly, the hall was formally opened on the evening of February 4, 1882. A comedy, Edgewood Folks, was performed before a packed house. Soon, the Opera House became a regular stop on the old Vaudeville Circuit. Al Jolsen, May West, performed here regularly as well as John Philip Sousa, who delighted audiences with an annual show. "The Opera House was of ample size, appropriately and elegantly finished and furnished, and possessed the important requisite of excellent acoustic properties." In 1927, the building was purchased by the Comerford amusement chain, who renovated extensively, turning the second floor into the current balcony. The front tower was also removed, the victim of steady weakening by the floods that raged down Broadway from the Mauch Chunk River, before the dam at Mauch Chunk Lake was built in 1972. During the next three decades the Opera House became known as the Capitol Theater, a movie house.However, it officially closed on April 27, 1959. Film entertainment at the Capitol Theater had been dying a slow death. Its once-heavy patronage had been reduced to a mere trickle by television, cineplexes, and other entertainment media."That was a Monday night and on the bill was Tom Thumb," the local newspaper reported, The Capitol Theatre closed its doors here last night, perhaps never to open again. In 1960 the building was purchased by Berkeley Bags Company, a pocketbook manufacturer, and used for years as a warehouse.In 1974 it was obtained by the Mauch Chunk Historical Society for $1. They began a restoration project by building the current lobby and restrooms, adding a new stage, and starting the long process of returning the venue to its rightful place in the community as a performance venue. After many fits and starts, a program of regular performance - rock music, singer-songwriter, jazz, contemporary dance, theater and classical music began to fill the room beginning in June 6th of 2003. Further upgrade projects were undertaken with the generous help of members donating their time and money at all levels.In 2008, the original tin roof was replaced with a new steel version. Later that year, the front canopy was rebuilt. Backstage, the facilities were greatly enhanced by the addition of dressing rooms, and a bathroom. Stage lighting, sound, and electrical service into the building were all replaced, and refurbished seats were installed on both the floor and balcony.
 
 

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History: In 1881, the community of Mauch Chunk, PA called for a new market and town hall, as it had quickly outgrown the existing wood-frame structure. Initially, the Mauch Chunk Opera House featured both an open-air farmers market on the first floor and a second-story concert hall, and a magnificent Romanesque tower in the front of the building. Addison Hutton, a Philadelphia architect who often visited Mauch Chunk, designed the building. The dedicated citizens of Mauch Chunk paid for and built the structure so they could enjoy professional performances in their own town. Construction began in August of 1881 and amazingly, the hall was formally opened on the evening of February 4, 1882. A comedy, Edgewood Folks, was performed before a packed house. Soon, the Opera House became a regular stop on the old Vaudeville Circuit. Al Jolsen, May West, performed here regularly as well as John Philip Sousa, who delighted audiences with an annual show. "The Opera House was of ample size, appropriately and elegantly finished and furnished, and possessed the important requisite of excellent acoustic properties." In 1927, the building was purchased by the Comerford amusement chain, who renovated extensively, turning the second floor into the current balcony. The front tower was also removed, the victim of steady weakening by the floods that raged down Broadway from the Mauch Chunk River, before the dam at Mauch Chunk Lake was built in 1972. During the next three decades the Opera House became known as the Capitol Theater, a movie house.However, it officially closed on April 27, 1959. Film entertainment at the Capitol Theater had been dying a slow death. Its once-heavy patronage had been reduced to a mere trickle by television, cineplexes, and other entertainment media."That was a Monday night and on the bill was Tom Thumb," the local newspaper reported, The Capitol Theatre closed its doors here last night, perhaps never to open again. In 1960 the building was purchased by Berkeley Bags Company, a pocketbook manufacturer, and used for years as a warehouse.In 1974 it was obtained by the Mauch Chunk Historical Society for $1. They began a restoration project by building the current lobby and restrooms, adding a new stage, and starting the long process of returning the venue to its rightful place in the community as a performance venue. After many fits and starts, a program of regular performance - rock music, singer-songwriter, jazz, contemporary dance, theater and classical music began to fill the room beginning in June 6th of 2003. Further upgrade projects were undertaken with the generous help of members donating their time and money at all levels.In 2008, the original tin roof was replaced with a new steel version. Later that year, the front canopy was rebuilt. Backstage, the facilities were greatly enhanced by the addition of dressing rooms, and a bathroom. Stage lighting, sound, and electrical service into the building were all replaced, and refurbished seats were installed on both the floor and balcony.