Prestigious National Award to Opera House

July 26, 2008

League of Historic American Theatres  2008 Outstanding Theater Award Goes to the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, South Carolina 

NEWBERRY, SC & BALTIMORE, MD –July 21, 2008 – Celebrating excellence in the performing arts field, The League of Historic American Theaters recognized the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, South Carolina as Outstanding Theater of 2008 at the national conference in Atlanta, Georgia,  July 20, 2008.

Chairman James Boese of the Nederlander Organization, (NY) and Thomas Johnson principal architect of Martinez and Johnson, Washington DC announced the award. Boese recognized the Newberry Opera House “for its significant accomplishments, inspiring excellence in the preservation, restoration and sustainable operations of historic theaters throughout North America.”

Boese acknowledged the award-winning Newberry Opera House as a prime example of best practices in our industry, and cited the Opera House as the major factor in the economic blossoming of their region of South Carolina.

Johnson praised the theater’s adventurous programming, exemplary community involvement, and exuberant, forceful leadership. He noted the astoundingly successfully renaissance of Newberry, transforming it into a tourist destination and an international economic hub.

Dr. James E. Wiseman, Jr.  accepted the award for the theater, thanking the League for their exceptional service to the field of historic theaters. He attributed the Opera House success to the work of more than 300 Newberry volunteers who put in over 18,000 hours of work annually.

The impact of the Newberry Opera House is truly phenomenal with more than 250 million dollars of economic growth attributed to the project.

“Perhaps no other town in the Carolinas has gotten as much attention as Newberry. But the publicity is justified. As Newberry transformed itself from sleepy southern burg to international arts and business center, a state watched in stupefaction and then cheered it on. Now it’s the toast of South Carolina and draws attention from the national press, which has covered it for its audacity to revive itself through the arts,” wrote a regional journal.

The Newberry Opera House, which presents more than 200 events annually, is an 1881 French Gothic structure, renovated and reopened in 1998. It draws approximately 100,000 people a year to Newberry, which is located in the rural, central Midlands of South Carolina. Performers range from Kris Kristofferson to Zoë Caldwell, the Temptations, Joan Baez,  Eli Wallach, Broadway, and Momix, to the Oak Ridge Boys to the NY Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

The design team for the restoration, which was completed in 1997 for
$4.5 million, was Craig Gaulden Davis, Architects; Charles Cosler Theatre Design, Theater and Architectural Lighting Consultant; Len Alexander, Management Consultants for the Arts and ARTEC, Acoustics and Sound System Consultants

The Newberry Opera House was selected for this award by a peer panel including Performing Arts facility directors, architects and consultants from all over North America.  Past recipients include the Flynn Theater in Burlington, Vermont, the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, and the Cutler Majestic in Boston, Mass. The unanimous decision of the jury to honor the Opera House recognized the “exceptionally strong vision for the theater and its incredibly powerful catalytic effect on the economy of the region.”

More information on the League of Historic American Theaters can be found at

For information on the Newberry Opera House: