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Sorg Opera House

Sorg Opera House, 57 South Main Street, opened Sept. 12, 1891, replacing Middletown's old Bijou Opera House. It seated more than 1,000 people on a main floor and two balconies. It was illuminated by about 1,200 electric bulbs, a recent amenity in 1891. During its history, it has been the scene of a variety of entertainment forms, reflecting changes in tastes and technology. The last vaudeville show in the theater was Aug. 4, 1929, according to George Crout, Middletown historian. Middletown's first "talking movie" was shown there Aug. 6, 1929, after showing "silent films" for several years. It was severely damaged in a fire Jan. 17, 1935. Before its revival, the South Main street showplace was known for many years as the Colonial Theater, starting in 1947. With the support from Middletown Heritage Inc. and the Friends of Sorg, the theater was refurbished and live performances returned to the Sorg Sept. 21, 1981, on the 90th anniversary of its opening. The opera house was built by Paul J. Sorg, a Middletown industrialist and political leader reputed to be the city's first millionaire. He bought the smaller Bijou and erected the Sorg Opera House on the site. "Sorg desired to give to the people a place where public meetings could be held, and at the same time were the people could see the world's best dramas, operas, musical and educational entertainment," said Benjamin Harwitz, a Middletown lawyer and historian who knew Sorg. (See South Main Street District., Sorg Paper Co. and Sorg Tobacco Co. for additional details on Paul J. Sorg.)

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