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Schwartz Center for the Arts (Dover Opera House)

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Dover Opera House
1904. 1920s facade. 1929–1934 interior. 1999–2001, C. Terry Jackson II. 226 S. State St.
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • Schwartz Center for the Arts (Dover Opera House) (Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs, Dover, Del.)

With this Opera House completed, Dover became the first town in Delaware outside Wilmington to have a facility devoted entirely to the arts. Actually, it was built to house touring vaudeville shows, not operas. By the 1920s, motion pictures predominated. The film Birth of a Nation played here in 1922, the year before a former MGM film distributor for Philadelphia, George M. Schwartz, bought the place. He built a new facade and marquee, expanded the seating to 900, refashioned the interior in Art Deco style, and renamed the building the Capitol Theater. It flourished for decades, not closing until 1982. The abandoned facility has found new life following a restoration that gutted the interior (the old fittings were auctioned off). The lost marquee was replaced, and seating was reduced to 600.

Writing Credits

W. Barksdale Maynard


What's Nearby


W. Barksdale Maynard, "Schwartz Center for the Arts (Dover Opera House)", [Dover, Delaware], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Delaware

Buildings of Delaware, W. Barksdale Maynard. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, 252-252.

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