Fine Arts Council & Opera House
Opera House Construction
For the past one hundred years, the Fayette Opera House has stood near the corner of Main and Fayette Street. Built in 1889 and 1899 during the administration of William McKinley and during the Spanish American War, the building has played an important role in the region through the administration of 19 presidents, six wars, and the Great Depression.
The Opera House was built during the age of horses and steam. Today it is planning for its role into the space and information age. When built, the Fayette Opera House was one of the cultural and educational institutions that set Fayette apart from other communities throughout the region. Near the end of the 19th century, Fayette was a growing community. Located on the Toledo and Western Rail Road and just south of the Michigan Southern Railroad, the village offered several amenities that were unavailable in other communities within the region. The town boasted an eighth grade school, a thriving business district and residential community and was home of the Fayette Normal College of Music and Business that later became Fayette Normal University.
The Opera House was built for approximately $4,000 and housed (on the first floor) village offices, shops, the jail, and later the fire department. The upstairs was dedicated for the use of spectator and community events. Live touring theater, as well as locally produced events were staged and the facility later became the community's first basketball court. Performers such as the Tennessee Boys' Choir and Jefferson performed on its stage and the University used the facility for its Lyceum Courses and graduation ceremonies.
The Opera House's use declined after the Second World War and the building was sold for commercial use. By the late 60s, the commercial venture was discontinued and the structure was used as a warehouse. Located in the heart of the village and surrounded by empty storefronts, the Opera House was the lone remaining structure which represented the early growth period of the community and its' renovation was considered as pivotal to the renaissance of the community's business district.
In 1978, the Fayette Community Fine Arts Council spearheaded a drive to acquire the structure and return it to its original usage. Over the past two decades, a core of dedicated volunteers have led the effort to renovate the structure as a community and cultural center. That effort has been successful. The stage and seating has been renovated and the group was also instrumental in overseeing the creation of the Opera House Green on the property to the immediate west of the building.
Current Events & Programs
The Opera House story is greater than the restoration itself. The Opera House has become the home of the Fayette Artist Series, it is also used by Fayette' Opera House Players, Archbold Community Theater, the Formerly Normal Playerss, and an all county theater group. The Opera House has hosted professionals from the Cincinnati and Cleveland Opera's, The Toledo Symphony Orchestra, and performers from Alabama, California, Boston, New York, etc. The facility is also used to house the senior citizen's nutrition site and has hosted numerous community meetings, private receptions and has even been the site of a wedding.
For some, the Opera House represents a period that has been relegated to history. However, for those involved in the restoration of the facility (the promotion of the arts), the Opera House represents a bridge to the future. It has been and remains the vehicle through which a strong sense of community can be forged. The Fayette Arts Council is proud to have played a leading role in the renovation of the Opera House. The Council is also prepared and poised to grow the facility into one of the premier rural independent cultural and educational facilities within the region.