The Lakeport Opera House
Above, the Lakeport Opera House on a beautiful spring day, May 10, 2022. Click the button above the photo to go to the website of the restored Lakeport Opera House.
Below, historical stereoviews of the Lakeport Opera House. The building, at 781 Union Avenue, dates from 1882. It was originally Moore’s Opera House. The theater, on the second floor, once seated 350 people. The theater has been completely restored, and reopened in June, 2021. The Laconia Daily Sun reported on July 30, 2019, that it would relocate its operations to the first floor of the building. In 2020, the building was completely renovated, and in addition to the Sun, it now features a coffeehouse on the first floor. Condos are to be built on the 3rd floor.
Lakeport Square was once known as Depot Square. Downtown Laconia also had its own Depot Square, so it was not long before the square in Lakeport was renamed to differentiate it from the one downtown. Cards from 1905-1909.
After a major fire on November 17, 1911, the Mount Belknap Hotel was reconstructed in the same location. The mansard roof, cupola, and the 2nd and 3rd floor balconies of the old House were lost or removed, while a fourth floor was added to the structure.
The building to the immediate left of the hotel was known as the Cushing Block and housed at first a bakery, then a paint store, then a hardware store. Apartments were rented on the top two floors.
The Lakeport Railroad Station. The last stop before reaching Weirs Beach. Passenger station on right was removed in July 1986. Freight station on left remains standing.
Two, nearly-identical views of the Opera House in the 1920s, looking south from the center of the square. The second, partially colorized postcard shows a car that is not present in the first postcard.
“The Square, Lake Port”, late 1940s. On the extreme left of the photo is a vertical “Theatre” sign. The neon sign was installed in January 1947. The title of the postcard, simply “The Square”, shows that Lakeport Square was no longer called “Depot” or “Webster” square by this point.
Another view from the top of the Opera House shows Lake Paugus and the Railroad Station, as well as the two nearby churches.
In the previous postcard view, the NEW, Park Street United Baptist Church can be seen on the left of the postcard, and the Union Avenue Baptist Church on the right of the card. The Union Avenue church, with its soaring Gothic Revival towers, opened on August 23, 1871, and was demolished in October, 1940. Below, a similar postcard.
The building at the center that resembles the Opera House was actually its predecessor, the Weeks Block, built circa 1871 and burned in 1881. The new Opera House building substantially resembled the old Weeks Block building, except for the roof and windows, which now sported elaborate lintels. This suggests that perhaps the burning was not total and the old building was partially saved. The photo shows Cole’s Hill extending upward behind the Weeks block. The Mount Belknap House, with its distinctive cupola, is seen on the far right.