South Carolina

Sumter Opera House – Sumter, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Sumter County Photos  |  Sumter Opera House

This historic opera house, which doubles as city hall, is the pride of downtown Sumter. Built between 1893 and 1895, it is the second opera house to stand on this site. The first was lost to fire in 1892. In 1936 the opera house was converted into a movie theater and operated as such until 1982. That year, the movie theater closed, and the building sat vacant until the City of Sumter purchased it in 1984. The city then completed renovations of the historic building in 1987 to once again use as a city hall as well as an opera house.

Sumter Opera House

Larry Gleason of Aiken, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Well over a century after it was built, the Romanesque opera house still plays an integral role in Sumter. While municipal offices continue to occupy much of the building – including city council’s chambers – a first-floor auditorium fills the hall with the sounds of live performances. Today musicals, plays, and concerts are well-attended at the Sumter Opera House, many of which are free to the public.

Sumter Opera House Night

Pete Lawrence of Sumter, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Below is an historical image of the opera house and city hall in 1907. A few years earlier in 1888 Belva Ann Lockwood delivered two lectures from the original opera house. Lockwood, an attorney, was the first woman admitted to the United States Supreme Court bar in 1876. She argued her first case before the Supreme Court the following year. In 1884 she became the first woman to launch a presidential campaign. She ran again in 1888, the same year she visited Sumter.

Sumter Opera House Historic

Courtesy of Wilson McElveen of Columbia, 1907 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Sumter Opera House Historical

Courtesy of Wilson McElveen of Columbia, 1940 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Sumter Opera House is listed in the National Register as part of the Sumter Historic District:

Originally called Sumterville, the town was the county seat of Sumter District and later Sumter County. A settlement by 1785, Sumterville was named after General Thomas Sumter, South Carolina Revolutionary war hero. In 1798, the village was selected for the site of the courthouse of old Sumter District. With no access to waterway or railroad, development was slow until the Camden branch of the South Carolina Railroad extended into the town in 1843. Incorporated in 1845, Sumterville’s name was eventually changed to Sumter. The town was officially chartered in 1871. Sumter’s political, commercial, and cultural development is reflected in the architecture of the central business district that spans a time period from 1828 to the present. Many of the buildings in the original commercial district date from 1880 to 1912 and are typical of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings, using materials such as pressed tin, limestone, and brick. Detail work of buildings includes arches, columns, decorative brickwork and dentil work.

Reflections on the Sumter Opera House

Contributor Larry Gleason, who took the photo at the top of the page, notes that it was an especially difficult shot. He explains: “It is not an easy building to photograph because of height on a narrow street.” We love how this picture captures not only the Opera House, but also the surrounding stores and street, creating a special glimpse of life in downtown Sumter!

Add your own reflections here.

Sumter Opera House Info

Address: 21 North Main Street, Sumter, SC 29150
GPS Coordinates: 33.921076,-80.341417

Sumter Opera House Map

Sumter Opera House – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Sumter Opera House, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!


The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

One Comment about Sumter Opera House

AudreyNo Gravatar says:
August 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am

I have never been to the opera house, but I am going to make it a point to visit the house and show.

Sumter Opera House - Related Entries

The Governor Thomas Bennett House

Tabby Manse
Tabby Manse

Hanover House

Daniel Cannon House

Alston House
Alston House

School House BBQ

Pirate House Church Street
Pirate House

Dew Homestead Conway


Join Us on Facebook
Our 5 Goals
Our Contributors
Add Info
Add Pictures
Search for Pictures
Missing Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Banks Barns & Farms Barnwell Batesburg-Leesville Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Cordesville Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Fountain Inn Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Huger Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Pacolet Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridge Spring Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Sunset Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York

© 2018, LLC All rights reserved.