Looking Back

	Better known recently as the Western Auto store, 
the Conway Opera House had a long and interesting history. 
Orrin Robertson built the Opera House on Washington Street
near the Saco River Bridge, replacing an earlier structure 
moved to become the Saco River Cottage.  Mr. Robertson's 
new building housed Sylvanus Sawyer's grocery store on the 
first floor, a butcher shop in the basement, auditorium on 
the second floor and restaurant on the third floor.  The 
auditorium, known locally as the Opera House, was the only 
large meeting place in Conway Village.  Plays and musicals 
were performed by traveling troupes who often stayed at 
the nearby Conway House.  The hall also hosted dances and
special events.
	In 1919, Leander Prescott, the building's new owner 
conceived and executed the idea of moving the massive 
structure to the corner of Washington and Main Streets,
filling the void left by the 1912 Conway House fire.  
The move took several days with traffic being rerouted 
behind houses on Washington Street.  A single horse labored 
at a capstan, pulling the structure slowly toward its new site. 
Amazingly, business continued during the move with customers
scrambling up into the grocery store as it inched along 
Washington Street.
	Eventually, the second floor was converted into 
apartments while a series of businesses, including an auto
parts store, an ice cream parlor, and a barber shop, occupied
the first floor.  The last business associated with the 
venerable building was the Western Auto store.
	On February 14, 1975, wisps of smoke were seen rising 
from the Opera House.  By the time the residents were alerted 
and evacuated, the building was fully involved.  Braving sub 
zero temperatures, the fire department was able to keep the 
conflagration from spreading to nearby buildings, but the
Conway Opera House was damaged beyond repair. 
	



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