Newport Opera House // 1886

The architectural focal-point on Main Street in Newport, NH is the Newport Opera House, with its solid massing and prominent central tower. The town was growing after the American Civil War and its position as County Seat solidified that growth. A new large civic building was erected in 1872 which housed a new courthouse and town hall. A fire destroyed much of the buildings on Main Street in 1885, and destroyed the courthouse and town hall building. As a response to the loss of the building, a fire-proof structure was erected from designs by Hiram Beckwith, a regionally prominent architect from Claremont. The structure featured space for the county, town, and even an opera house! The jewel of the new building was the Opera House located on the second floor that housed a stage considered the largest north of Boston. The Newport Opera House soon became the center of entertainment in Sullivan County and patrons came from far away to enjoy the large variety of programs presented. The large hall played host to dances, boxing matches, weddings, political rallies, plays, school graduations and more! After a period of severe decline, a group of artists and residents of town worked together to restore the building and use the space as a performance center. It remains one of the finest buildings in this part of the state.

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