It’s been a while! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and hats off to those of you who were brave enough to get out there on Black Friday. As for me, I have been out of the office for some time, but the Sumter Tourism blog is now back on track.
Now…time to talk a little about some upcoming events, and then talk a lot about a major new project for the City of Sumter. Coming up at the Sumter Opera House this weekend are two great performances—the Columbia City Jazz Company’s “The Two Claras,” a contemporary take on “The Nutcracker” on December 10, and the Sumter Community Concert Band’s annual Christmas Concert on December 11. Information on these two shows can be found here.
The last movie that was shown at the Opera House in 2011 was It’s a Wonderful Life on December 2, and that is going to be the last one for a little while. However, unlike the Sumter Theatre’s closing in the early 1980’s, this closure will only be temporary. The Opera House will be closed for maintenance and repairs from December 12, 2011 until the end of February 2012.
This will not be the first time that the community has gone a while without access to its historic downtown landmark. In 1893, the original Sumter Opera House, built in 1872, burned to the ground during a performance. It was rebuilt in 1894 as the gorgeous Richardson-Romanesque structure that we all know today, one of only five remaining Opera Houses in the state of South Carolina. After closing around 1982, it sat empty until the City of Sumter moved in several years later. During the first eventful century of its existence, the building fell, rose, and rose again to secure a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. For more information on Opera House history, click here.
Among the Opera House’s outstanding features are the 100-foot working clock tower, the sandstone façade with red mortar and a breathtaking auditorium featuring a hand-carved, hand-painted proscenium in the Art Deco style. The City is very proud of this 520-seat performance hall and takes great care to keep it in top shape. However, maintenance is a fact of life for any building. Please note that City administrative offices will be unaffected by the work and that upstairs, business will continue as usual.
During this same time, construction will also be taking place in the Opera House parking lot at the corner of West Hampton, Harvin and Liberty Streets. Unlike the auditorium work, this will slightly affect operations at the Water Department, so please take care to read the notes on your water bill for instructions. Work will begin on the West Hampton side first; the Liberty Street side will remain accessible.
There’s still lots of stuff to see and do in our community, but we look forward to welcoming you back to the Sumter Opera House in spring 2012. Keep checking back, and we’ll keep you posted!