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Smith Opera House (photo credit Smith Opera House)

Smith Opera House

Geneva, New York, United States

First Opened: 29th October 1894 (127 years ago)

Atmospheric Style: Spanish Baroque

Architects: Pierce & Bickford (1894 building), Victor A. Rigament (1929-1931 remodel), Leon H. Lempert (1894 auditorium)

Former Names: Geneva Theatre, Smith's Opera House

Link: thesmith.org Link opens in new window

National Register of Historic Places: #02001454 Link opens in new window (added 10th October 1979)


Overview

Originally opened as the Geneva Theatre in late 1894, the overall building was designed by architects Joseph Pierce and Henry Bickford (as Elmira-based architectural firm Pierce & Bickford), and the auditorium was designed by theatre architect Leon H. Lempert. The theatre was the dream of local philanthropist and businessman William Smith, constructed with the vision of bringing culture and entertainment to the local area.

The theatre with a production of “The Count of Monte Cristo”, starring James O’Neill, father of playwright Eugene O’Neill.

Following financial difficulties the building was sold in 1927 to Schine Enterprises, a large corporation that owned many theatres and hotels. In1929 extensive remodeling began under the direction of Pittsburgh architect Victor A. Rigament. The current Spanish Baroque atmospheric treatment dates to this period, when the remodeled theatre reopened in 1931.

A massive restoration project launched in 1994 set as its goal the renovation of the building’s exterior to its original 1894 façade, and the interior to its 1931 eclectic opulence.

Information in part sourced from the Smith Opera House Link opens in new window.

Historic Photos & Documents
Smith’s Opera House in 1894 – the original auditorium, courtesy <i>Smith Opera House</i> (JPG)
Smith’s Opera House in 1894 – the original auditorium, courtesy Smith Opera House (JPG)
Auditorium in 1979, courtesy <i>Geneva Historical Society</i> (JPG)
Auditorium in 1979, courtesy Geneva Historical Society (JPG)
Restoration taking place in 1994, courtesy <i>Smith Opera House</i> (JPG)
Restoration taking place in 1994, courtesy Smith Opera House (JPG)
Files displayed in this section may be subject to copyright; refer to our Copyright Fair Use Statement regarding our use of copyrighted media.

Photos of the Smith Opera House

Photos
Smith Opera House: Exterior, courtesy Wikimedia Commons user <i>Marcbela</i>
Exterior, courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Marcbela
Smith Opera House: Auditorium from Balcony, courtesy <i>Smith Opera House</i>
Auditorium from Balcony, courtesy Smith Opera House
Smith Opera House: Auditorium from Balcony, courtesy <i>Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance</i>
Auditorium from Balcony, courtesy Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance


Photo credits are noted where data was available at the time of inclusion. Photos displayed here may be subject to copyright; refer to our Copyright Fair Use Statement regarding our use of copyrighted media and contact us Link opens in new window with any concerns.

Photographs copyright © 2002-2022 Mike Hume / Historic Theatre Photos unless otherwise noted.

Text copyright © 2017-2022 Mike Hume / Historic Theatre Photos.

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