HISTORY--A PROUD PAST In 1892 the Dr. B.J. Kendall Co., a manufacturer of patent medicines and the largest employer in the area presented the Town of Enosburg and the Village of Enosburg Falls with a building which became known as the Enosburg Opera House. Located in the center of the village, this wonderful Victorian style, wood frame building soon became a local landmark.
For many years the Opera House was the cultural center of surrounding Franklin County. Noted for its exceptional acoustics, the Opera House was the year round venue for a wide variety of events. Over the years audiences from near and far listened to the strains of classical music as well as to the cadence of a John Philip Sousa march conducted by the master himself. It is no small wonder that it is on the National Historic register.
The Opera House was an integral part of the lives of the residents of Enosburg and the surrounding area for many years. However, with the building of a high school gymnasium in 1947 the Opera House began to decline. For over a decade the building sat unheated and for the most part unused until, in 1975, a group of local residents became concerned with the condition of the building and formed the Enosburg Opera House Association.
A complete restoration of the Opera House was needed. In 1993 the Select board of the Town of Enosburg appointed a group of five area residents to form the Enosburg Opera House Restoration Committee. The Restoration Committee applied for and received grants, match funds appropriated by the Town of Enosburg, donations by local service organizations, and the Enosburg Opera House Association and Restoration Committee fund raising activities. The first project, took care of repairs to the roof, added another emergency exit, paid for the installation of a fire alarm system and improved the wiring. The second project, which was completed in the summer of 1996, saw the exterior of the Opera House scraped, structural repairs effected and the entire exterior of the building repainted to its original color scheme. Finally, the Restoration Committee received a grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont to paint the interior, replace bathrooms with handicapped accessible facilities and address several immediate repair needs. In 1998 the revitalization responsibilities were handed over to the Friends of the Opera House at Enosburg Falls.
The Opera House at Enosburg Falls is, and always will be, a work in progress. Thanks to funds received from a Housing and Urban Development grant and the generous response to the Capital Campaign, major infrastructure renovations to the 110-year-old historic Opera House building began. That work addressed the building’s structural deficiencies, completely upgraded the electrical and heating systems, added sprinkler and other fire and safety protection, and a handicap accessible passenger/freight elevator was installed serving the first floor level, the Grand Hall, and the stage.
Although the successful completion of the project in August 2000 made the Opera House fully Code compliant and able to open for business, additional costs involved in fulfilling historic preservation, safety, and building code requisites exhausted the money then available before any finishing touches could be undertaken.
As funds continued to flow into the Friends of the Opera House restoration account, and with some volunteer muscle help, the Friends were able to embark on the finishing of the two dressing rooms, as well as Green Room. The dressing rooms were completed with makeup mirrors, counter space and sink.
The list never ends and upkeep and maintenance are a constant struggle. Most recently the stage floor has been refinished and the refreshment room which was quite primitive is insulated, properly electrified and painted -boasting an upcoming wall which can be perused while enjoying a homebaked treat!
We continue on by pursuing financial opportunities. Our goal is to insulate the building making the facility more comfortable to our patrons all year round.