DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Derry

January 16, 2014

Derry's historic Opera House needs repairs

Safety concerns close balcony seating at historic opera house

DERRY — The balcony is closed for now.

The upper seating area of the historic Adams Memorial Opera House is off limits until repairs can be made to ensure safety for those attending performances.

The historic Opera House, located within the Adams Memorial Building on West Broadway, is a community gem, many say, and is one of the “603 Reasons” readers said New Hampshire is special.

But a recent inspection of the space revealed some areas in need of repair, according to Public Works Director Michael Fowler.

“We looked at the stage area, the ceiling,” he said. “Engineers came back and said (it was) a difficult situation, with some over-stressing of beams.”

The stage area also needs reinforcement, Fowler said, and the roof needs repair. Insulation will be added to enhance the building’s energy efficiency.

When benefactor Benjamin Adams left money to erect his namesake building in the early part of the 20th century, the plan was to make it a downtown space for offices, public library and police, with room on the upper floor for a theater and stage.

A $1.5 million renovation project was completed in 2000, giving the Adams Building new heating and air conditioning systems, an elevator, sprinkler and new restrooms.

As part of that project, the Opera House also received a refurbished balcony and restored theater-style seating.

Town officials still work to keep the building as a viable part of the downtown and get more people in the door to use its 350-seat opera house.

That includes keeping the space safe and in good shape.

Several groups call the town-owned Adams Building home, including the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, Greater Derry Arts Council, and Derry’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority.

Those groups pay rent to the town. The Arts Council does some of its own work to keep the Opera House in good shape, including simple painting or other jobs, Fowler said. Major projects are the town’s responsibility.

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