Pens With History
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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.
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.