LACONIA — On learning that large the white, frame building at the corner of Union Avenue and Clinton Street in Lakeport, which houses a small theater, would be offered for sale, the Heritage Commission, fearing it might be demolished, recently toured the site.
Gerry Horn, the longtime owner of the Lakeport Opera House Block building, last week confirmed that he intends to sell it, but said that he has yet to contact a real estate broker. "I would love to see someone restore it," he said. "Demolition is the last option."
Horn recalled that "20 or 30 years ago" members of the Streetcar Company approached him about acquiring the building and restoring the theater. but abandoned the project on discovering that the cost of renovating the theater alone was $1 million."I've shown it to hundreds of people over the years," he said.
The building sits on a small, 0.2-acre lot and was originally constructed in 1885. It was known as the Opera House Block and for a time was home to the International Order of Odd Fellows. The first floor consists of 4,552-square-feet of retail space, most recently leased to a pawnbroker but now vacant. The theater is on the upper story where there is 9,240-square-feet of space. The property has an assessed value of $224,800.
Astride a busy intersection with limited on-street and off-street parking, the location has posed a challenge for commercial enterprises. The single story brick building next stood empty for several years before a restaurant opened more than a year ago only to close in less than three months.