Newberry Opera House
Dedicated in February 1882 and designed by architect G. L. Norman, the Opera House has been described by Harold L. Cooledge, Alumni Professor of Architecture at Clemson University as "a very good example of eclectic design from the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It was, in all likelyhood, 'designed' out of a pattern book, and shows influence of the Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness."

The goals of the restoration were: to restore the wrap around balconies, to take over the first floor completely to provide lobby space and public amenities, to provide dressing facilities and rehearsal space, to provide a fully equipped stage, rigging, drapery, stage lighting system and sound system, and to provide historic lighting.

The new rigging system consists of 3-line counterweight sets, house curtain rig, and a braille-type fire curtain. Reversible framed legs on tracks provide the means to create standard, black velour theatrical side masking, or, by reversing the panels, a blonde wood concert enclosure.

The stage lighting system features a system of distributed dimming "sticks". These sticks, mounted on the same positions as the lights, can be controlled at the light, obviating the need for a board operator during focus. The sticks can be moved around according to the needs of the individual production, thereby maximizing the use of a limited number of dimmers. The dimmers are controlled by a computer console and a large inventory of stage lighting instruments has been provided so that the theatre, which is located in a rural area, can be operated without being dependent on rental equipment.

A new proscenium has been designed to be acoustically transparent to maximize the acoustic coupling between the auditorium and the stage. This will have the effect of increasing the room volume and reverberation for music performances. The proscenium frame is deep enough to house the sound system loud speakers, thus ensuring the appreciation of the historic proscenium which frames the historic house curtain, all of which add up to the focal point of the Opera House.

Provided by Larry King and Tom Young, respectively, of Artec, the acoustics of the hall are enhanced by a near silent HVAC system, the ability to vary the reverberation with concealed draperies above the acoustically transparent ceiling, and the attention to the detailing of the windows to attenuate outside noise. The sound system provides for amplification, recording, and playback of effects and music through a central cluster and distributed loud speakers. A production intercom has been provided for backstage communications, paging, and aural monitoring of the performance in the dressing rooms and lobby.

We designed the historic theatre chairs with a lumbar support for comfort and with a historic back profile, custom cast iron end standards, and fabrics and finishes which are contemporary with the late 19th century ambiance. The seating plan provides for a sound-mix position, removable chairs over the pit area, and persons with disabilities seating.

Our lighting design for the project includes historic "gas-light" fixtures, and energy efficient light sources for the back-stage areas. Control is provided by a memory preset system.