The Old Keller Opera House

     In 1872 folks in Cuba had a vision.  Probably in those times it seemed like a huge undertaking, and possibly there were those who thought it too big a project.  But some folks had a vision and in that year about 75% of the block that now houses the Arts West Gallery was built.  Built with space for businesses on the ground floor, but built with the whole second floor over all the buildings connected.   It was on the second floor that the majestic Keller Opera House had it's home.   Along with the opera house there was a basketball court, and plenty of room for other organizations to meet.

     The old ticket booth still stands guard where folks once entered the opera house, but the door is locked and it seems that wonderful era is bygone.   Older folks in the area remember the plays and concerts and the minstrel shows performed there.  Some of the area young men of that generation were in the minstrel shows.  The group was called "Schrumb" and consisted of Gardner Whipple, Albert Lawrence, Eaton Merritt, and Culver Morgan.  In the old ticket boot many names have been written.  "Schrumb" is there in large letters.  At least two of the young men who signed their names there were killed in World War II.  Not only folks from Cuba signed their names, but folks from all over the area.  Most are dated in the 1930s.

     A group of people, headed by Bill Dibble, the Arts West Gallery, Inc. President, (who is the guy with the dream) wants to unlock that door and bring back that feeling in Cuba that the older folks had, that Cuba was the greatest place on earth.  However the door to the opera house cannot be unlocked because where the opera house once stood there is debris and a large opening from where the roof collapsed overhead.  To put the roof back on the building including the beams that split when the roof went down will cost $50,000.

     $5000 has been raised so far for this project, but the roof needs to be put on soon if the building is to be saved.  As in 1872 there are skeptics, but there are also those who have chilled their feet and hands as they pump water from the tarps that cover the second floor and the building below during this rainy winter.  And while they do it they have visions of watching a play in the opera house.

     A whole art complex in that area upstairs connecting all of the buildings is Bill Dibble's dream. He needs financial help and moral support to make it come true.

     Arts West Gallery, a 501-c-3 not-for-profit corporation, is asking for your help to find the funds so that the roof can be repaired this summer.  We invite you to visit the Arts West Gallery at 24 West main for more information and photographs about the Keller Opera House.  You may call the gallery at (585) 968-2068.  If rain and snow continue to come through the 32 x 62 foot hole, the building cannot be saved.  Not only will a historic landmark be lost, but the adjoining Eckerd's Pharmacy and youth center will also be affected.  We have a sign with 50 squares near Eckerd's.  As contributions are received and total $1,000, we will pain in the next square until we reach our goal of $50,000.

     Won't you please help us to raise the nec3essary funds?  Donations are tax deductible.  Checks should be made out the Arts West Gallery, Inc. and sent to:

Arts West Gallery - 24 West Main Street - Cuba, NY  14727

     Or better still, bring your donation to the Gallery and see what talent lives in Allegany County.