Declared an architectural gem by the New York Times and the Smithsonian Institution, the Smith Opera House is one of the country's oldest operating performing arts centers. Designed in the Romanesque style, it was built in 1894 by businessman and philanthropist William Smith, who wanted to provide a place where residents of Geneva could enjoy entertainment and culture. During its early years, vaudeville acts performed here. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the Opera House remains an integral part of the community.
The Opera House was converted into a movie theater in 1931, a transition that included the addition of Art Deco and Baroque architectural elements. In the mid-1990s, the building was renovated; the exterior was converted back to its original Romanesque appearance and the Art Deco interior was restored. A number of famous artists have performed here including Bruce Springsteen, Wynton Marsalis, and Billy Joel.