131 W German St. The Opera House replaced a one hundred year old building in 1909. Here moving pictures were shown continuously until 1956. Thirty-five years later, after extensive renovation, it reopened as a movie theater. It is currently used as a venue for both film and live music.
House was built by former Shepherdstown Mayor, U. S. Martin, in 1909. That
year, it was sold to the Musser family who installed a motion picture
projector, one of the earliest. “The Opera House ran
nightly, often showing as many as three different films each week.” In 1928, the Opera House
began to show the newfangled “talkies” because they were the first motion
picture theatre in West Virginia with sound.
the Mussers closed the Opera House in 1956. “It sat dark and silent until it
was purchased by Pam and Rusty Berry. After an Extensive renovation following
the Department of the Interior guidelines for the restoration of historic
structures, the Berrys reopened the Opera House in February 1992 and began
showing American Independent and foreign films. In 2004, they added new
lighting and sound systems to accommodate live musical and theatrical
Lawrence and Julie Cumbo purchased the Opera House, hoping to take the business
to the next level. Lawrence is a filmmaker and wanted to preserve the Opera
House tradition, while also making music a part of the Opera House culture.
“Since then, continual light and sound system upgrades, an expanded back stage,
and a revamped green room has allowed this vision to grow into one of the
area’s finest music and film venues.
described their original vision for the theater, “Our original motivation was
to turn it into a community-based theater offering live music, performing arts,
and fine films—and to create a uniquely historic and intimate place to
entertain people in Shepherdstown and beyond.” But “Because of the change
in studios making less films, and distributors buying less independent films,”
he explained, “we’ve evolved to hosting major film festivals throughout the
years, including our new film series, Rusty Mondays, which is devoted
to Rusty Berry.”