The 1890 OPERA
"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.
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.
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.
1972, a handful of concerned local people saved the opera house, with
its falling plaster and leaking roof, from the destruction of the
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
May 14, 2011
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