The Friends of the Vergennes Opera House kickED-off a celebration of 15 years of community arts at last week’s year’s Vergennes Day with the start of a membership drive.
Next year will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the grand reopening of the Opera House, and the Friends used last week’s event to celebrate the community effort that has gone into the revitalization of the cultural icon.
The Vergennes Opera House opened in 1897 in the beautiful brick building that also houses Vergennes City Hall. The space hosted famous guests such as President James Garfield, touring theatrical troupes, the first moving picture shows seen in Addison County, and dozens of local weddings, debates, graduations, and performances.
The Friends of the Vergennes Opera House was formed in 1993 to restore and reopen this community center, which had fallen into disrepair and disuse. After four years of extensive renovations and improvements, the Opera House proudly reopened its doors in July 1997 with a keynote address by Gov. Howard Dean and a performance by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.The Opera House restoration and reopening was the initial spark for the economic and cultural revival of Vergennes that continues to this day.
According to Board President Allison Rimmer, “The Opera House is a vital part of our town, and an important resource for Addison County. Our members, volunteers, staff, and board of directors work together to create a beautiful, welcoming space for visitors, performers, and audience members. The Opera House is a wonderful space for the whole community to enjoy.”
The past 15 years have seen changes and continued improvements to the space, both large and small. In the past year, the Friends hired new Executive Director Eileen Corcoran, and under her leadership, created the position of Events Manager, more than ably filled by Tara Brooks. The two women are several projects to a conclusion, including completing the sprinkler system; installing new ticketing software to better serve our audiences; and updating our membership, sponsorship benefits and opportunities.
“We want to continue to build on the incredible amount of time, talent and local support that has gone into the revitalization of this wonderful community space.” said Corcoran. “Our hope is to have all community members feel invested in the Opera House and to ensure generations to come can enjoy it as part of the fabric of their life experience.”