Norway Maine Opera House
The Norway Maine Opera House is one of Maine’s most significant historical buildings. It was in a state of severe disrepair, but is in the first stages of renovation.
To save the Norway Opera House, and to facilitate its full renovation.
The Norway Maine Opera House was originally constructed of wood in 1882. The building burned in the great fire of May, 1894. By the fall of that year, the handsome brick build¬ing that you see today had been constructed and occupied. For many years it was the site of high school graduations, town meetings and professional touring shows. The building was home to the Pennesseewas¬see Players and used for town recreation.
In 2003, the building was named the most endangered historic structure in Maine by Maine Preservation.
Acquiring the Building
Following the disastrous roof failure in 2007 that allowed water to pour into the building and in¬undate the building tenants with water, the town attempted to acquire the building from the own¬er with a generous $200,000 donation from Bea and Bill Damon. After negotiations failed and the building was declared in danger of imminent collapse by an engineer, the town voted to obtain ownership of the building by eminent domain.
After the building was acquired, the town applied for and received a Community Development Block Grant to stabilize the building. Matching funds were raised locally and $200,000 was expended to support the roof and remove the damaged brick sections on the back of the building.
Reopening the storefronts
In order to revitalize Main Street and save the Norway Maine Opera House, the town applied for $400,000 from the Communities for Maine’s Future funds that were approved by the people in 2010. This funding, along with $700,000 in matching funds that must be raised, will allow the five storefronts on the ground floor to be restored and occupied. A unique partnership between the town, Norway Maine Opera House Corporation and Norway Savings Bank has been formed to oversee this effort. The Opera House Corporation must raise $300,000 toward this restoration.
Move in date for the retail spaces is set for February 1, 2013. Although the first floor renovations are almost complete, our efforts to pay for the work is ongoing.
Renovating the Auditorium and Balcony
Following the successful completion of Phase Three, the Opera House Corporation will seek community input into what the future use of the auditorium and the balcony will be. Its renovation will be expensive and will require the commitment of the people in the community to complete. The Opera House is the heart of our downtown and was once the Glory of Main Street. With your help, it will be again.
Please consider helping.
How can you help?