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Levy Opera House
The Charlottesville Town Hall, also known as the Levy Opera House, is located in Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, Virginia. The building design, circa 1851, has been attributed to either Robert Mills or George Wilson Spooner, Jr.1
The building was constructed in 1852 in the Greek Revival style and seated approximately 800 people.2 Located on the site of the former town battery or commons,3 it was constructed from brick, laid in American bond with a Flemish bond variant, and boasted a hipped roof and a three-bay front with an entablature.4 From the time of its design in 1851 until 1858, the building was run by the Town Hall Corporation, whose original members included Valentine W. Southall, John Cochran, Slaughter W. Fickline, and James W. Saunders.5 During the time when the building served as the Town Hall, it was used to host a wide variety of events, including concerts, lectures, church fairs, and university functions.6
In July 1887, the building was purchased by Jefferson Monroe Levy, the owner of Monticello.7 Levy remodeled the building into an Opera House to make it more suitable for public functions; in doing so, the seating capacity was reduced to roughly 500 people. The newly converted and renamed Levy Opera House opened in 1888 and hosted traveling theatrical companies as well as local performances.8 The Levy Opera House served as the community's main theater until the Jefferson Auditorium opened in 1896. From that time until the Jefferson Auditorium was destroyed by fire in 1907, the two theaters competed; following the 1907 fire, the Levy Opera House resumed its prominent role.9
There is conflicting information regarding the time period during which the building was occupied by the Jefferson School for Boys. The "Proposal for Adaptive Restoration of Town Hall, Levy Opera House" states that, from the time the Jefferson Auditorium opened in 1896 until 1911, the building was jointly occupied by the Levy Opera House and the Jefferson School for Boys. In 1912, the Levy Opera House closed and two years later, in 1914, the building was converted into apartments.10 John Hammond Moore, in his book Albemarle: Jefferson's County, 1727-1976, states that, in 1912, the building was occupied by the Jefferson School for Boys, following the closing of the Levy Opera House, which resulted from competition from the newly opened Twyman's Main Street Entertainment Palace.11 In recent years, the building housed the Parkview Apartments and in 1981 was redesigned by architect Henderson Heyward into office space.12
- 1. Town Hall-Levy Opera House Committee and Grigg, Wood, & Browne (Firm), A Proposal for Adaptive Restoration of Town Hall, Levy Opera House, Charlottesville, Virginia (Charlottesville: Grigg, Wood, & Browne (Firm), 1976); K. Edward Lay, The Architecture of Jefferson Country: Charlottesville and Albemarle County (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000), 203.
- 2. Calder Loth, ed., The Virginia Landmarks Register, 4th ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999), 104.
- 3. Lay, Jefferson Country, 201.
- 4. Albemarle County Court House Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior.
- 5. Town Hall-Levy Opera House Committee, A Proposal for Adaptive Restoration.
- 6. John Hammond Moore, Albemarle: Jefferson's County, 1727-1976 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976), 160.
- 7. Loth, Virginia Landmarks, 104.
- 8. Moore, Jefferson's County, 266.
- 9. Moore, Jefferson's County, 350.
- 10. Town Hall-Levy Opera House Committee, A Proposal for Adaptive Restoration.
- 11. Moore, Jefferson's County, 226.
- 12. Moore, Jefferson's County, 266; Lay, Jefferson Country, 203.