Our 16th venue visit on 2013′s Conclave Theatre Tour will be to:
THOMASTON OPERA HOUSE
158 Main Street, Thomaston, CT
ARCHITECT: Robert Hill
WEBSITE: thomastonoperahouse.org (<- This is an alternate link to the town of Thomaston’s website.)
Built at a cost of $50,000 on land donated by the family of clockmaker Seth Thomas, the Thomaston Opera House hosted town meetings, amateur theatricals, card parties and dances as well as city celebrations such as the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Groundhog Day. Traveling shows would also play the opera house. When silent movies came in, the theatre presented them as well as minstrel shows, high school graduations, and local community bands.
The Opera House was the center for Thomaston cultural and civic events. When talkies arrived, the theatre became the Paramount Theatre under the direction of Robert Swartz, a businessman from nearby Waterbury. Soon movies decamped for another theatre and in 1939-1940 the theatre was renamed the Park Playhouse. In 1963, the Opera House was condemned by the local fire department.
In May of 1967, a special town meeting was held to set up a Thomaston Opera House Commission. In September 1968, the theatre opened with the Second Annual Festival of the Arts featuring Marian Anderson as the special guest. She exhorted the guests, “Make this a beautiful lighthouse in a sea of those who know not where they are. Make this a living thing, make it a place that will stand out in this world long after we are gone.”
In 1971, a Marr & Colton theatre organ was installed and is regularly and lovingly maintained by the Connecticut Valley Theatre Organ Society. Seating music is played prior to most events and two or three organ concerts are scheduled throughout the year. CVTOS will be joining THS during our visit to demonstrate the organ for our members!
The Opera House suffered another blow in 1985 when an update to local fire codes caused another shutdown. Again, citizens rallied to the cause and the opera house was renovated and reopened. Today, the Thomaston Opera House remains a centerpiece of the community and great source of pride.
WHY ARE WE SEEING IT?
Darling little town hall style theater. Largely intact décor and interior. Haunted too!
Registrations for Conclave 2013 are now closed.