For centuries, the Woodward Opera House has acted as the place for the arts in Mount Vernon, and still does today. It serves as a venue for a variety of performances including works by MTVarts as well as the living history Chautauqua shows put on by the group Elixir. Through these types of performances, the Woodward project hopes to find a way to strengthen the community as a whole.
Those at the helm of the restoration aim to thoroughly honor the past, whether through the use of restoration methods that preserve as much of the original architecture of the building as possible, or by remembering the performers of the past such as Dan Emmett and The Snowden Family Band, both of whom shaped how we view popular culture and folk music today. Not only will the restoration of the Woodward aid in maintaining the community’s rich artistic history, but it also strives to help revitalize downtown Mount Vernon as a whole.
The Woodward Opera House has stood as a powerful representative of the arts in the Mount Vernon community, as well as a reflection of the community itself. The restoration is designed to both celebrate the performances that will take the Woodward’s stage and to elicit a desire in young people and outside communities to engage in the arts. While it may seem that artistic resources would not be as significant in a rural community such as Knox County, Mike Petee of Elixir put it best when he said:
It’s amazing the variety of opportunities for a small town. You would think that you would have to go to a large city… It’s here you don’t have to go far.
Photo: The interior of the theater in the process of renovation. Courtesy of Meredith Rupp
Written by Jack Chadwick (‘19) and Meredith Rupp (‘19)