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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.


  • Opera House
(Present Day)
  • The Opera House (1948) 
Note the marquee and the movie posters. 
Courtesy of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission

The Opera 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.[1] “The Opera House ran nightly, often showing as many as three different films each week.”[2] In 1928, the Opera House began to show the newfangled “talkies” because they were the first motion picture theatre in West Virginia with sound.

Unfortunately, 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 performances onstage.”[3]

In 2010, 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.[4]

The Cumbos 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.”[5] 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.”[6]

Music and Entertainment Since 1910. The Opera House Live. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://operahouselive.com/about.

Shepherdstown Opera House Finds Its Groove Again. Shepherdstown Visitors Center. March 20, 2016. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://shepherdstown.info/shepherdstown-opera-house-finds-its-groove-yet-again/.

[1] Music and Entertainment Since 1910. The Opera House Live. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://operahouselive.com/about.

[2] Music and Entertainment Since 1910. The Opera House Live. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://operahouselive.com/about.

[3]Music and Entertainment Since 1910. The Opera House Live. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://operahouselive.com/about.

[4] Music and Entertainment Since 1910. The Opera House Live. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://operahouselive.com/about.

[5] Shepherdstown Opera House Finds Its Groove Again. Shepherdstown Visitors Center. March 20, 2016. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://shepherdstown.info/shepherdstown-opera-house-finds-its-groove-yet-again/. 

[6] Shepherdstown Opera House Finds Its Groove Again. Shepherdstown Visitors Center. March 20, 2016. Accessed July 08, 2017. http://shepherdstown.info/shepherdstown-opera-house-finds-its-groove-yet-again/.