Prest Opera House

Information taken from Andover News and Submitted by William A. Greene  2006


When the village of Andover was in her infancy around mid 1820’s, a family by the name of Prest moved to Andover to make their home.  They had a son by the name of John Prest Jr. who was born May 27th 1827.  Young John grew up to be a carpenter.  John Jr built many houses in Andover and in surrounding communities.  He also built a few churches and business buildings throughout the area. 

        In around 1882, John Jr. built a building on East Greenwood Street in Andover. It was a large two-story building.  The top floor was used for a skating rink when roller-skating was a rage all over the country.  Later it was turned into a dance hall and opera house.

        The ground floor was used for offices and different businesses throughout the years.

        There isn’t much written about this grand old building from 1882 to 1904 so there isn’t much to tell.

        In March 1904 the “Prest Opera House” was sold to John Common and Clark Rogers for $4,500. The Vienna Bakery and the A. DELANEY & CO., Groceries and General Merchandise occupied the ground floor.  The offices of P. C. Lynch and the Hon. Jesse S. Phillips occupied the upstairs.

        Nothing more is written until August 16th 1907 when the Opera House is sold again to Erwin Baker for $2,200.  Mr. Baker subsequently sold the land to different parties, whose Main street properties adjoined the opera house lot, thus lengthening their lots, safeguarding their buildings from fire and materially decreasing the cost of insurance.

        The building was sold to Lever & Stearns, who will take the building down and use the material in constructing a new livery barn on their lot opposite the Erie Station.

        I don’t know what happened to this deal, as the next headlines written on April 10th 1908 about the Opera House are “The Common & Rogers Block Burns To Ground.”  The building was entirely consumed and the loss was $11,700 with insurance covering $6,225 of the damage.  

        Gone was the law office of the Hon. Jesse S. Phillips; the Odd Fellow’s Lodge, Lee Trowbridge laundry (where fire started), John Common’s dentist office, Allegany Mutual Telephone Co., Excelsior band instruments and music and the Rebekah Lodge.

        The lot later became Baker Brothers Hardware, Richardson’s Hardware, Thorp and Son Hardware and the A & R. Hardware.  Smiley & Sylvia D’Ariano still own the building and property.