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BY ANGELA GARY
The Victorian-style Newberry Opera House was completed in 1881 at a cost of $30,000 for use as an entertainment venue and for city government offices. The Opera House became known as the “entertainment center of the Midlands,” with touring companies of New York bringing minstrel and variety shows, vocalists and lecturers, magicians and mind readers, novelty acts and boxing exhibitions. Silent pictures were shown in the theater in the 1900s. In the 1920s, the Opera House was used as a movie theater.
In 1925, the movie theater closed and there was later talk of tearing the building down. This didn’t happen and it continued to be used for city offices until 1992. The Opera House was renovated for $5.5 million and is now an entertainment venue popular with locals and visitors to the area.
The Newberry Opera House is the focal point of the downtown area, with shopping, dining and a hotel all within steps of the historic building. It is now said that, “You haven’t played South Carolina unless you’ve played at the Newberry.”
A recent performance included an Evening With Edwin McCain, a native of South Carolina, who told the crowd he loves playing at the Newberry. He shared some of his fan favorites and new music, as he shared funny and touching stories about his family and life on the road. He is a wonderful storyteller who brings the audience into his life and the stories behind his songs.
The Newberry Opera House is located at 1201 McKibben Street. For more information, go to www.NewberryOperaHouse.com.
Before going to the theater, we had a wonderful meal at Figaro, located at 1117 Boyce Street. A great start to the meal is the amazing charcuterie plate. For an entrée, I had a wonderful fish with artichokes. Another property, Bar Figaro at 944 Main Street is a fun spot if you aren’t ready to end your night out.
Our visit to Newberry also included shopping in downtown, where you will find lots of unique shops, and a stop at Enoree River Vineyards Winery, located at 1650 Dusty Road, where you can relax on the covered desk overlooking the vineyard.
Angela Gary is an editor with MainStreet Newspapers Inc. She can be reached at Angieeditor@aol.com.