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The Story of the Sumter Opera House

Sumter, South Carolina

Setting the Stage to Experience History

An icon of Sumter, South Carolina, the historic Opera House Clock tower is clearly visible as you drive down the main stretch of the town. The Sumter Opera House is truly a story of change and highlights the supportive community around it's growing success today. Seth Reimer, Cultural Director of the Sumter Opera House, spear headed the development of the content with his team. The Opera House held an artifact day, resulting in multiple contributions of photos, small objects, and historical accounts of local Sumterites. Annie Rivers, Director of the Sumter County Museum, wrote the copy for the exhibit.

Setting the Stage to Experience History

The story begins with a blown up postcard photograph of the main stretch of town. The first opera house, built of wood, burned down in the 1890's. After renovations in the 1930s, the new building experienced updates in the 40s and 70s. Artifacts include posters of past shows, a book and chair belonging to soprano Clara Louise Kellogg, and an old coin. As visitors move into the modern day story, they can explore how the town was able to revitalize the building and utilize the space for live shows, movies, and theater. The clock tower also has a place on the stage, as visitors can take a peak into a scaled version of the clock mechanism. An old clock arm artifact, gives visitors an understanding of the size of the clock face. Finally, the exhibit continues to tell a story, inviting visitors to share their memories and hear recollections of past visitors and performers. 

"This is a living exhibit, continually changing, as more people record their memories," Ellen Janson, Community Improvement Coordinator for the city (The Sumter Item)




The Sumter Item “Sumter Opera House history exhibit will open today”

ABC Columbia “Sumter Opera House to Open Historical Exhibit Next Month”


City of Sumter “Sumter Opera House to Open Historical Exhibit”

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