Monday, January 18, 2010

Our First Meeting Hall - Seibert's Opera House

Basketball, musical shows and town meetings! You might wonder what all these have in common. There has been talk recently to build a new town hall, take over center school and even construct a new school. But prior to 1913, we had no town hall and prior to 1939 when the high school was constructed (the Center School), no schools had gymnasiums. In 1913, the Town voted to convert the center grammar school (the current Board of Ed. Offices) to a Town Hall. So where did local teams play basketball? At Seibert’s Opera House of course. And where were theatrical productions and musical shows performed? At Seibert’s Opera House of course. And where were East Hampton Town Meetings held? You guessed it! So where is Seibert’s Opera House? It still exists located on the corner of Main Street and Walnut Street opposite Center Package Store and across from the Board of Ed. Building.
In recent years, the second story hall was converted to apartments, but in the late 19th and well into the 20th century, this was used for numerous community activities. One of the last public events occurred in 1985 when the Democratic Town Committee sponsored a Valentine’s dance. I recall it being a very cold February night and all the guests were waiting in anticipation for our home town friend, Governor Bill O’Neill. The Governor was running late. Ironically, a group of labor protestors were outside picketing, probably over some budget crisis. I suspect Governor O’Neill took his time coming from other stops on his schedule to let the protestors cool their heels. By the time he arrived around 10:30 p.m., demonstrators and a TV News Team that had been waiting to capture the confrontation had left, which was fine with all the home town folks since the protestors had been an unwanted intrusion to those of us in attendance anyways.

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