February 19, 2013

Waterville Opera House is back in business

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — After more than a year-long hiatus, the Waterville Opera House is back in business.

click image to enlarge

Diane Bryan, executive director of the Waterville Opera House, sits in the balcony overlooking the recently expanded facility that has received the 2012 Community Service Project of the Year Award by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

Staff photo by David Leaming

The Opera House Association is wrapping up a $5 million renovation project geared toward modernizing yet preserving the historical integrity of the 110-year-old building.

Citing the association’s commitment to preserving the historic cultural centerpiece while taking the facilities into the 21st century, the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce awarded the Waterville Opera House the 2012 Community Service Project of the Year.

Shannon Haines, executive director of the Maine Film Center, said that when the opera house temporarily closed, downtown businesses felt the impact.

Since the opera house reopened as a bigger and better venue, Haines said, it’s been drawing more people than ever to Waterville’s center.

“It’s one of Waterville’s most important cultural aspects,” Haines said.

Haines, who nominated the project for the chamber award. is also the former director of Waterville Main Street, which works to promote the downtown as an economic and social hub.

Built in 1902, the opera house has been a gathering spot for years, hosting not only the performing arts but community events, such as graduation ceremonies and the inauguration of the mayor.

Executive Director Diane Bryan said the association turned down options to gut the building or tear it down, in order to bring it up to modern standards.

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