Our Vision for The Opera House Community Center
The West Liberty Historical Society Town Hall Committee’s goal is the restoration and renovation of the Town Hall and its 2nd floor Opera House, a valuable center of activity for the community and surrounding areas.
The Opera House hosted many community events from its opening in 1869 to the late 1950’s. Once restored and renovated, the Opera House will once again be a focal point for the West Liberty community. It will provide a unique historic setting for a wide variety of events.
Phase 1 (Completed)
Phase 1 included a new roof paid for by the Village of West Liberty. ($47,000.00) Donations were solicited and received from present and past citizens of the community for needed tuck pointing, new historically correct windows and restoration of the bell tower for a total of $69,606.08 The labor to install the windows was donated by a local craftsman.
Phase 2 (Completed)
Phase 2 involved finding a new location for a fire truck. This was accomplished by purchasing a nearby building ($60,000.00). The remainder of this phase was the remodeling of the first floor to accommodate the office of the Village Clerk, Liberty Township meeting space, West Liberty Village Council meeting space, new public restrooms and landscaping. All areas are ADA accessible. The total for this work is $190,520.67 paid for by contributions from current and past community members, small businesses and two small grants. Also included in Phase II is a new HVAC system paid for by the Liberty Township Trustees ($30,000.00) and exterior brick work paid for by the Village of West Liberty ($18,000.00).
The Opera House --- My Turn
"A Historical Treasure, I made my debut in 1868! What an enjoyable evening at the “hop” as the grand theatre was opened and attended by many folks from West Liberty and
miles around! I continued to be popular for events and gatherings, the seats were filled! The years brought me a new sloped floor, and theater seats.
In about 1940, at only 72 years of age, activities within my doors began to slow down. Sadly, eventually I was condemned! I might as well have been dead! The voices, the music, the laughter, all were gone!
One night, maybe 20 years ago, a few people came up the fire escape to see me on the night of the village Christmas celebration, but not many thought I held much possibility. I was a neglected mess! My first real glimmer of renewed life came when workers came to restore my rotting bell tower. Maybe they would notice me and see my potential! I tried to look my best. I heard more noise as they tuck pointed my brick and installed new windows to keep me from further decay! I had kept that old upright piano in pretty good
tune, and I wasn’t asking for much. I just wanted to be a center of activity for our community enjoying music, voices, laughter and footsteps coming and going again!
I’m older (wiser?) than the theaters north and south of me, and won’t be used in the same ways, but I love our town and its neighbors and want to be available for them all to use.
Another happy day! Work began on my first floor! It is rejuvenating as I hear the voices up through the floor! They say it’s beautiful and people love seeing it and the old pictures of how my building originally looked. New public restrooms, township and village meeting spaces, a village office; Great! But... I’m still up here all alone!
Then I heard beautiful words! “You are next." Would it really happen? Would people really fill my walls again with laughter, music, gatherings of all kinds? I have hope! The old piano looked at me and winked, and its keys began to play, “Our time has come!”
Can you help make it happen? I won’t disappoint! You and I will be so grateful!
By Grayson Atha, West Liberty Author & Historical Society Member