Rockland Opera House

Union Street and Church Street,
Rockland, MA 02370

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The Rockland Opera House opened August 31, 1892 as a small-town venue for touring shows, with seating provided for 985 in orchestra and balcony levels. It later presented movies and was still operating in 1926 when it was listed with 500 seats. Still open in 1929, but had closed by 1931. It then became a home for community theater productions and apparently lasted in that role at least into the early-1940’s.

Contributed by Ron Salters

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 20, 2016 at 10:36 am

There was an earlier Rockland Opera House which became Hibernia Hall, a social/fraternal facility. It may have been located at 279 Union St. (not sure of that). The opera house was on a long list of theaters and halls in Massachusetts which received state licenses during 1920. John Bowler was Mgr. then.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on January 22, 2016 at 10:47 am

Mike L., who grew up in Rockland (b. 1937) and was an avid movie fan there in the 1940s and early-1950s, had no knowledge at all of the Rockland Opera House. He did not even hear about it until he was an adult. He doesn’t know exactly where it was located. When we talked about it a few years ago, he attempted to contact someone he knew who was very much into town history, only to learn that she had recently passed away. Another opportunity lost.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 23, 2016 at 3:03 pm

The New York Clipper Annual for 1893 lists the Rockland Opera House as having been dedicated on August 31, 1892.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on February 1, 2016 at 10:45 am

At one of the internet auction sites recently there was a lot of 16 old theater programs; 14 were from New York theaters, one was a program for a play in 1910 at the Park Theatre on Washington St. in Boston (later, the Trans Lux/ State), and one was for a 1911 touring show at the Rockland Opera House.

oldasdirt45
oldasdirt45 on April 12, 2016 at 11:13 am

The Rockland Opera House was located on the second floor at the corner of Church and Union Streets. The entrance was in the rear of the building. I can remember attending Town Halloween parties in the opera house. It was demolished back in the 70’s or 80’s. The location is now the South Coastal Bank (formerly Rockland Savings Bank). I wish we had more history of this important building.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 13, 2016 at 10:38 am

oldasdirt45 – Thanks for finding the location. Do you recall what years the Halloween parties for kids were held there?

oldasdirt45
oldasdirt45 on April 18, 2016 at 10:25 am

No, I’m sorry, but I can’t recall the exact years the parties were held. I believe I went there in the early to mid 50’s. One other interesting fact concerning the Savings Bank building though. If you look at the picture above you will see the main entrance at the corner of the building. That door used to be a large window that held a Don Kent-WBZ Weather Station back in the early 60’s.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 18, 2016 at 10:56 am

oldasdirt45 – Early- to mid-1950s is good enough for me; I just want to get an idea of when the theater was still being used for something. When I first heard about the Rockland Opera House, I learned that it ceased showing movies (silient) by 1930, so I assumed that it was demolished sometime in the 1930s, then I learned that it was in use as a community theater venue up until at least the early-1940s. So it’s nice to know from your postings that it lasted much longer than that before it was demolished and replaced by the bank bulding.

oldasdirt45
oldasdirt45 on April 21, 2016 at 7:09 am

Glad I could help. I am may have misled you slightly, though. I believe that the bank building is not a replacement, but is all that remains of the original building when the entire second floor was removed.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on April 21, 2016 at 10:48 am

oldasdirt45- OK, then. To recap- The Opera House remained in use for such things as kids' Halloween parties as late as the 1950s, and was obliterated when the upper floor (containing the theater) was demolished sometime 1970s-80s when the remaining ground floor was remodeled into the South Coastal Bank office. Does that sound right? Also, I think I may have been misled a long time ago by something on-line which gave the impression that an earlier Rockland Opera House became Hibernia Hall by 1904, and was located “where South Coastal Bank is today”. It would appear that Hibernia Hall was in the Rockland Opera house building, and there was no earlier theater by that name.

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