Deer Isle is fortunate to have an outstanding community and cultural resource in the Stonington Opera House. As a visitor to our island, you’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy theater, music, movies and more. This creative venue is housed in a historic building in downtown Stonington. And it not only offers cultural events but serves as an important community resource through its community and education programs. When you’re planning a trip to our area with a stay at Pilgrim’s Inn, be sure to check out the Upcoming Events. This list which will tell you all you need to know about the Opera House Arts performances this season. This includes the “Shakespeare in Stonington” annual theatrical event at the end of July and the Deer Isle Jazz Festival in August!
For more information on artistic endeavors to enjoy on Deer Isle, you can download our free Vacation Guide. It features everything from the Stonington Opera House to the Deer Isle Artists Association.
Stonington Opera House Architectural History
The Stonington Opera House was built in 1912, currently celebrating over 100 years of community history, arts, and events. The building was originally constructed in 1886 as a music and dance hall. It was later expanded from its original and current location to Main Street, with additional balconies and a scene tower. This expansion burned to the ground in 1910, the night that the first fire hydrants were operational in Stonington, Maine. The rest of the town was spared because of this. The Stonington Opera House was then rebuilt by Renaissance man Dr. B. Lake Noyes. At this point, it seated only 250 people in folding chairs.
The Legacy & the Present
Since its inception, the Stonington Opera House has served many community purposes. It hosted vaudeville, Chautauqua performances, plays, high school graduation, dances, and basketball games! After 1918, it was also issued a license to show movies, a tradition that has continued to this day. In the 1960s, the seats were removed and the Stonington Opera House was used as a roller skating rink. Almost two decades later, it was bought and restored from weather damage. In its final ownership transition in 1999, the Stonington Opera House was occupied by Opera House Arts. This non-profit organization was established specifically to restore the building to its original purpose as an epicenter for the community. Now, the Stonington Opera House functions once again as a staple for theater, music, dance, film, and other community events!
Shows & Events
There are performances and events running throughout the year at the Stonington Opera House. Opera House Arts upcoming events include series such as Meet the Artists, Chamber at the Church, and Live! There are also festivals hosted at the Opera House. The Deer Isle Jazz Festival is a favorite annual August event that includes world-class jazz musicians. The Chamber at the Church series features traditional and contemporary chamber music, with each evening concert on specific dates throughout the summer. The Live! performances include comedy, dance, music, and acrobatics, as well as other interesting art forms. The best part is, each performance is only $5 – what a deal! The main acts, however, are the plays. You might even want to plan your trip around the summer theater season!
The Stonington Opera House is foremost a community center, serving as a base for Opera House Arts events and programs. Many of these are educational programs aiming to improve the town and instigate the arts. The Living Room Project is a series of staged pieces of American fiction which are performed to create discussion around some of the community’s pressing issues. The students not only participate in the performances and discussions. They also create multimedia presentations to showcase themes. An internship program is also available at the Stonington Opera House and will pay a stipend or go toward community service credit. An arts camp is another educational program for grades K-8. This program offers chances to create art, perform, dance, and play music with professional artists.
From its history to its present support of arts and the community, the Stonington Opera House is a must-see venue during your stay at Pilgrim’s Inn on Deer Isle. Enjoy the arts and culture during your visit!