Jefferson County Gen Web

 The 1890 OPERA HOUSE





The 1890 OPERA HOUSE

 The "Perkins Block" was built in 1890 by an enterprising Monticello businessman named John H. Perkins. This handsome building included three first floor shops housing Perkins mercantile interests - a general store and sewing machine shop, a hardware store and a farm implement supply store. In addition, Perkins built a stable behind the building from which horses, mules and wagons were sold. The second floor of the Perkins Block included a large foyer and an opera house boasting unparalleled acoustics and the largest stage in North Florida.


Perkins had high hopes of establishing the opera house as a going concern. For several years performances included both professional touring groups and local productions. Shortly after the turn-of-the-century, however, the railroads were re-routed, by-passing Monticello. The wealthy patrons who had once wintered in Monticello now sought destinations further south and the opera house faced financial disaster.


Unable to attract the necessary clients, Perkins discontinued live performances. An attempt to utilize the building as a movie theater failed which led to the abandonment of the auditorium. Although the downstairs store fronts saw continuous occupation for a variety of uses, the majestic opera house, with its sweeping stage and near-perfect acoustics, stood idle and soon fell into disrepair.


In 1972, a handful of concerned local people saved the opera house, with its falling plaster and leaking roof, from the destruction of the wrecker's ball.


The purchase of the Perkins Block was finalized on October 17, 1973. On that date, the Monticello Opera House, Inc. purchased the building with money raised through fund-raising efforts, a grant from the State of Florida and the generous gift of Mrs. Dorothy Simpson, who held one-half interest in the building.

                                                                       

                                                                                   May 14, 2011





 
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