BANGOR – The Bangor Opera House has become a staple in downtown but it’s changed quite a bit over the last century.
“It’s a survivor. Because we’ve had fires, we’ve had demolitions in the 60s urban renewal,” said Richard Shaw, a historian in Bangor.
The original opera house was built in the late 1800s.
“And that even had a revolving stage for Ben-Hur. They had horses and they had all kinds of stars,” said Shaw.
Bangor was once called “the Little Broadway of the North.”
“There were quite a few theaters that offered live performances,” said Kathryn Ravenscraft, executive director of Penobscot Theatre Company.
The original Bangor Opera House fell victim to fire.
“One night in January of 1914, it burned memorably and two firefighters out back died,” Shaw said.
Shaw said the building was destroyed beyond repair and it sat vacant for several years before being rebuilt.
“Seeing Vaudevilles, people juggling and fire eaters. And then they’d show a silent movie and no sounds until 1927,” he said.
Over time it transformed into a cinema and then in the mid-90s Penobsot Theatre Company bought the building and turned it back into a live performance theater.
The company brought life back to a decaying building.
“We’ve restored the facade. We’ve restored the marquis. We’re put a lot of love into this old house,” said Ravenscraft.
To celebrate 100 years of the Bangor Opera House, they’ll be holding a jubilee inside the theater on Feb. 29. For more information or to purchase tickets visit their website.