SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — The Shepherdstown Opera House has earned the Heritage Tourism Award from the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia.
The award was announced recently during the organization’s annual conference.
Steve and Harriet Pearson renovated and reopened the 113-year old music, movie, and theatre venue in Jefferson County.
“The Shepherdstown Opera House has once again become a center for the arts and community in our region,” after the renovation, according to the Pearsons. “We’re grateful to (Shepherdstown resident) Greg Coble for nominating us for this recognition and are excited to welcome audiences and performers from near and far to the Opera House and historic Shepherdstown.”
The Pearsons bought the historic building in 2017 but had to essentially rebuild the inside after a 5,000 gallon water leak in 2018.
“It was an old building. We bought it knowing it would have repairs over time. We had been prepared for that.” After water flooded the building, engineers gave them the difficult news. “Ultimately when we opened up the building, all the engineers said, “Uh, oh. We’ve got more here to do. Structurally there was a lot of work to be done.”
The Pearsons had to build the theatre back inside its historic façade.
“We fundamentally have created a new building inside the old structure,” Harriet Pearson says. “We preserved as much as we could. We still are doing some work here, but it’s now a 21st century place.”
She talked about the next act for the historic venue.
“Starting July 7th, The Contemporary American Theater Festival is going to use the building and one of their five plays is going to be produced and shown in the Opera House,” according to Pearson.
A press release gave more details. “This July the Shepherdstown Opera House is proud to host the Contemporary American Theater Festival for the global premier of the play Fever Dreams (of Animals on the Verge of Extinction).” according to the release.
“Shepherdstown Opera House – Built in 1910 as a vaudeville theater, the Shepherdstown Opera House is an intimate and friendly venue updated for the 21st century to provide an amazing experience for artists and audiences alike.”
The Heritage Tourism Award was presented at an event in Lewisburg June 17th. The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia is the statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation in the Mountain State.
Pearson says it’s been a labor of love. She says she has not added up the bill because the work isn’t finished yet.
More information and updates here.