The Cedarville Opera House was originally constructed in 1886 and became the center of our community life for over 60 years. It hosted many musical, educational, theatrical, and even political programs.
In 1956, because of greater accessibility and interest in outside entertainment, the Opera House closed its doors and was not used for the next 30 years. In the early 1980s, citizens took a revived interest in the opera house and, in 1984, the Cedarville Opera House was placed on the Historic Preservation Commission of Cedarville.
Citizens helped restore and rebuild the building, and in 1994, the Cedarville Opera House reopened. The following year, the Cedarville Opera House Society was formed. Since then, a full array of programs including music, theater, movies, and literary recitals have been held for public enjoyment.
The original frame of the Cedarville Opera House was constructed in 1886 only to be destroyed by fire within the year. The architectural plans for the current brick Opera House, built in 1888, were brought to Cedarville from England by Cedarville native Whitelaw Reid. Whitelaw Reid was a noted publisher and US Ambassador to England and France and his portrait hangs above the Opera House stage. The design of the Opera House is a 1/3 scale model of the Royal Albert Hall in London. John W. McLean of Cedarville built the structure.
In the late 1800s, the Pennsylvania Railroad, which ran through Cedarville, made the construction of an Opera House a logical step for a growing town. Over the next 60 years, the Cedarville Opera House became the center of community life, opening its doors to minstrel and medicine shows, touring drama groups, orators, political rallies, magic lantern shows, and high school and college graduations and programs.
Due to the advances in transportation and accessibility to outside entertainment, the Opera House closed its doors in 1956 and remained unused except by bats and pigeons for nearly 30 years. When it was discovered that one of the main beams was deteriorating and demolition became a possibility, a new interest in the old structure began to emerge. In the early 1980s, concerned citizens banded together and the Historic Preservation Commission of Cedarville, Inc. (HPCC) was born.
Through the concerted efforts of the HPCC and the Cedarville Township Trustees, a levy for the restoration of the opera house was placed on the ballot. With the passage of this levy, restoration began. The first step of the cleaning and repairing process was to remove tons of droppings. Holes in the ceiling were then repaired, the ceiling beam reinforced, the slate roof restored, and the chimney and bell tower repaired. In 1984, the Opera House was placed on the Historic Preservation Commission of Cedarville.
In October 1994, the Historic Preservation Commission of Cedarville extended an invitation to other interested citizens to form a new organization which would continue restoration and oversee future operations of the Opera House. In January 1995, with a newly organized committee, the Opera House was incorporated as the Cedarville Opera House Society, Inc. (aka COHS). By-laws were adopted, Board of Directors officers elected, and monthly and annual meetings were established.
The grand re-opening of the Cedarville Opera House took place on Labor Day 1994 with the enactment of Oh, Cedarville, a play written and produced by a member of the Society depicting the history of the town. The play was presented by members of the community and included segments about noted personalities from Cedarville. In 2013, the Cedarville Opera House celebrated its 125th Anniversary.
Each season, we strive to give you quality entertainment and programs with as much "local" talent as possible. The Cedarville Opera House values you as a patron, your service as a volunteer, and the support from our advertisers. Thank you!