The Sterling Opera House is a magnificent building that sits in the little town of Derby, in Connecticut....my home town! It was built in 1889 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1968. It was designed by H.G. Ficken, who also designed Carnegie Hall. In it's heyday, it was an opera house (until 1933), but after that, part of it was used to serve as Derby's City Hall and Police Station...complete with creepy looking prison cells.
Many famous people have appeared at the Sterling: John Philip Sousa, Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, Harry Houdini, Donald O’Connor, Amelia Earhart, and John and Ethel Barrymore, many whose autographs and hand prints adorn the walls below the stage. Harry Houdini even left part of his 'act' there...the trap door he used in his act to escape from the stage. A rope still hangs above it today.
Many say this building is haunted (the building was featured on a TV show about it), but since I don't believe in ghosts, I'll just take their word for it. While walking through this building, I was fascinated by the hidden beauty that lies beneath the chipped paint, dust and musty smell. I think this gem should be cleaned up, refurbished and brought back to it's former beauty. Right now it just sits there awaiting a makeover. The outside has been cleaned up and looks wonderful, but the inside is just sitting in limbo. People use it for photo shoots and personal gain, but frankly, I think it's such a waste sitting there in such a state. It belongs to the city, so it should be used and enjoyed by those who live here. What a great way to bring business back to this small 5 sq. mile town in southern Connecticut.
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