Blog Articles on the LOH!
RENTAL CHARGES FOR LUNENBURG OPERA HOUSE USE
|Main Floor + Balcony||$780||$112.50|
- Full Day is up to 8 hours of continuous use (not including time leaving staging/equipment in place for multiple day use).
- Hourly is per hour or fraction thereof with a minimum of a four-hour rental.
- Sound/Lighting Equipment, not a technician, are included in these rates – Only our audio technician or a technician mutually agreeable to both parties is allowed to run our equipment. Please contact us to discuss requirements and obtain quote for audio technician cost.
- Cleaning, including garbage removal, if necessary at a rate of $75.
- $150 a day ($20 per hour) premium applies to Friday and Saturday rentals of the Main Floor, a $75 a day ($10 per hour) premium applies to Friday and Saturday rentals of the Upper Floor.
- Not-For-Profits receive a 25% discount on rental of the space, all other fees are as indicated. Please email admin“at” folkharbour.com or call 902-634-3180 to discuss availability.
History of the Lunenburg Opera House
Construction of the Lunenburg Opera House began in 1908 by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) who used the upper floor for their meetings. The IOOF, founded in 1819 and still active, is a non-political, non-sectarian international fraternal order whose aim is to provide charitable works, aid, and assistance in the community. In 19th century England, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and of pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind, Those who belonged to such organizations were called “Odd Fellows·. Odd also means “extraordinary”.
The first concert was held in 1909. With its excellent acoustics and structural design fashioned after an old European Music Hall, with shipbuilding influences, the building is an important part of Lunenburgs’ musical and cultural heritage.
The ground floor (auditorium/theatre) was used as a Vaudeville concert hall and live theatre until the 1940s when it became a cinema, the Capitol Theatre, and was used for that purpose to the 1970s.
The second (top) floor, with its magnificent view of Lunenburg harbor, was the IOOF meeting hall. Upon reaching that level from the stairwell, you will notice two ante-rooms before entering the main hall.
There are slots in the doors with sliding covers. The IOOF was a “secret society” with passwords! The interior rooms with customized wooden cabinets were to store the robes and other paraphernalia. The floor, a typical dance hall floor of that period, is suspended or “floating”.
The building was bought by Jack Sheriff in the early 1970s. He was a long-time performing arts promoter (and Professor at Acadia University) who revitalized its use as a performance space. He also lived in the building. It became known popularly as the Lunenburg Opera House (LOH). By the early 2000’s, the second floor (Upper Hall), contained a recording studio. The building had deteriorated over the years and attempts to renovate and operate it had limited success.
In 2005, following the death of Mr. Sheriff, a local community arts cooperative that included the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society, launched a campaign to buy, restore and operate the building. However, It was purchased by Farley Blackman in 2006 who operated it as a private venture as Lunenburg Opera House Ltd. He invested considerable funds and energy into the project and the building’s exterior shell is sound, as is the electrical system. The concert hall (auditorium) and lobby is restored (floors, walls, stage) and for the past few years has been rented out for concerts, films and special events.
On April 25th 2019 the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society (LFHS), with a generous grant of $433,800 from the Fordi Foundation and assistance in covering the closing costs from a local donor, purchased the building. The LFHS would hold the balance as a $300,000 mortgage liability so is now seeking additional funding from federal, provincial and municipal sources as well as interested community members to support the renovation and operation of this important heritage structure in the heart of Old town Lunenburg.
In December, 2019, the late Guenther and Susan Reibling made a donation to the Society to allow it to pay out the mortgage. The Reiblings are long-time Festival supporters, who said they were “pleased to see the Society acquire the Opera House in order to expand their programming and provide entertainment in a beautiful facility
While the $433,800 grant from the Fordi Family Foundation and the $300,000 donation by Guenther and Susan Reibling has eliminated the mortgage on the Lunenburg Opera House, ongoing support is required. The annual operating costs of property tax, insurance, heating and maintenance are significant and upwards of $32,000/year. Significant community donations in 2019 helped the society pay these expenses, but ongoing donors and sponsors are needed. Renovation priorities in our 5-year business plan include adding washrooms, expanding our off-stage area (to facilitate theatre productions), and restoring the 3rd floor.
Donations to support to LOH and it’s renovations can be made via the Canada Helps website. Our communities and province of Nova Scotia benefit greatly from your donation.