Dakin Theatre

North Main Street,
New Berlin, NY 13411

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Interior of New Berlin Opera House, 1908.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The New Berlin Opera House was rebuilt shortly after after a previous theater of the same name damaged in a large fire on March 8, 1899 (the Utica newspaper at that time archly asking why a town of 1,100 had a first-class performanace hall and they didn’t). The earlier theater seems to have been built in 1893, with a company having been capitalized that year to build the venue at $12,000. It was made of brick, and sat in the main business district. The newer version of the theater appears to have been rebuilt and back in action by 1900. The Dakin (or Dakin’s) Opera House name appears to have been in use prior to 1900, but it is after 1900 that it seems to be the primary name used for the theatre, Dakin being the name of the proprietor at that time.

The theater was apparently owned by an A.L. Oliver for a time prior to his sudden death in 1931. Woolsey Ackerman managed the venue in the mid-1930’s. The “opera house” nomenclature was still in use as late as 1936, seemingly more or less interchangeably with the more modern name “Dakin (or New Berlin) Theater”. The last mention of the New Berlin Theater I have found has a Billy Graham film being premiered there (simultaneously with major cities) in 1953.

Newspaper accounts and local historical websites make it clear that the opera house was located adjacent to the Eagle Hotel (which was burnt, and rebuilt, at the same time as the theater), on North Main Street. It is visible on many old postcards of the era, normally just to the right (north) of the shot of the hotel. Internet searches imply that both the Dakin Opera House and the Eagle Hotel are still-standing historic landmarks, but sadly, this does not appear to be the case. These buildings apparently stood on the northwest corner of the town center, in the large plot now occupied by a parking lot.

Contributed by Adam Marsland

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

adamghost
adamghost on September 4, 2013 at 2:06 am

Tried to make a hotlink of the below picture but couldn’t get it to work:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_K78YS2Yisw0/SteT1Fhh48I/AAAAAAAAAw0/kwfWFyw80D4/s640/NYBerlin1a.jpg

Opera house is just to the right of (and dwarfed by) the New Eagle Hotel. Both were rebuilt after a large fire in 1899.

adamghost
adamghost on September 4, 2013 at 2:18 am

After locating a photo of the interior of the opera house, it stirred a personal recollection of playing a talent show in New Berlin in 1982. I do not remember where the talent show was held, but I remember the layout of the stage and the room and it was very similar to this photo. I wonder if it could have possibly been held in the old opera house? I am fairly sure the building was still there at that time. I would think I would have remembered, but maybe not.

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