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Hole in history

Published: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

To the Editor:

It’s gone. And overnight McHenry’s Green Street landscape loses its largest identifiable piece of architectural and community history. The recent fire that took down the Old Central Opera House is an “in-your-face” example of how nonrenewable the historic built environment is as a resource. It is down and gone, and so too is this visible reminder of just how McHenry developed its identity.

Like Harvard, Hebron, Union, Crystal Lake, Marengo, Woodstock and even Solon Mills, McHenry had its grand showplace, the Central Opera House. Especially in the years before movies, radio and the auto, these structures served as graduation sites, locations for home talent plays and concerts, as well as regular venues for professional productions by such troupes as the J. B. Routnour Players. Imagine watching live performances in your hometown theater that could accommodate 600 people. It must have been really something. And it was.

The fire was such a tragedy in terms of the losses faced by current residents, business and building owners, and employees. It also is a tragedy for those of us who recognize the irreplaceable hole it leaves in our history.

Nancy J. Fike


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