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.