Expansion of the Sumter Opera House in preparation
Work has started on the building next to the opera house, which could eventually be the new entrance hall for guests.
SUMTER, SC – “Downtown is kind of the heart of a city, because downtown can tell a lot about the city as a whole,” said Leigh Newman, downtown development coordinator for Summer. “Everything you need to get people downtown – businesses, restaurants, art – that’s exactly what we’re working on to get people downtown.”
From vibrant murals to community events, downtown Sumter is constantly changing. This week, that means starting work on the expansion of the Opera.
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Seth Reimer is the Presenter and Cultural Director for the City of Sumter. He tells me that although the opera house is a popular attraction, it needs updating. A few years ago, the city bought the building next door. Now work has begun to remove the ceiling tiles and uncover the original floor.
“This building has not been touched… I think it was in 1901 that this building was built that we are renovating today so it is amazing to have the original floor and ceiling back and now to take off this first layer,” he detailed.
Reimer tells me the goal is to expand the opera house to better serve more people. Eventually, visitors to the opera will be able to see the lobby of this new building. Currently, Reimer says workers are trying to preserve the original artwork.
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“We actually take pieces of the original tin ceiling and they take it apart and meticulously number each of them because they all have to go up in the same order, so it’s a very laborious process, but that’s fair “A really amazing piece of history that we can keep and hopefully recreate or finish and be able to put back,” he said. “And it just adds a lot of character.”
Chris Hardy of the Chamber of Commerce says this is important as Sumter’s town center gets more attention.
“Our downtown is becoming a Sumter staple and it’s becoming a Sumter destination, like where 10, 15, 20 years ago it wasn’t necessarily,” Hardy explained. “People want to be able to walk to what they do. They want to be able to walk to dinner, they want to be able to walk to go out at night, so the more you can give access to people who can walk to your center- city, the more foot traffic you will have.”
Expanding different projects like opera can help with that, Hardy said.