There is a little piece of Dunfermline far, far away in twinning town Sarasota, Florida. It’s the story of an Opera House that never held an opera until it had travelled 4256 miles west! Dunfermline’s residents have always enjoyed entertainment, music and performance, reflected in the many locations this Tour visits.
In 1900, self-starter promoter and architect Peter Roy Jackson drew up plans for a lavish theatre, and they were to call it Dunfermline Opera House and Hippodrome and opened 11 September 1903.
Opera never appeared but other entertainment took over. Movies soon appeared and the management added a screen and projector, two World Wars reduced the opportunities to attract audiences and finally, the rise of households owning their own televisions resulted in the venue’s closure in 1955.
When a new road layout was approved in 1982 to create Kingsgate Shopping Centre and Andrew Carnegie Drive dual carriageway, Reform Street where the empty Opera House stood was removed from the map. It was recommended to preserve the craftsmanship of the interior from a remodelling which happened in 1920. They had reopened as a variety theatre and plasterwork was in Louis XV style. It was carefully packed away like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Four years later a group from Asolo Repertory Theater, Sarasota were in touch looking for a pre-made opera theatre, what are the chances?
In 1989, they bought the pieces and reassembled them and it is now called Mertz Theater which hosts opera and other musical work, next to another imported theatre from Italy. The image is linked below.