Derby city officials are on the hunt for interior photographs of the Sterling Opera House.
While exterior shots of the old Elizabeth Street opera house are common, photographs of the interior are rare. Officials want the photos to get a sense of what the interior of the historic building looked like in its golden years. The photos could guide them if and when the interior renovation starts.
The city is searching for grant money to renovate the interior. They’ve collected money for an exterior rehab and have money to hire an architect to figure out how to handle the interior renovations.
As it stands, they have just one interior shot of the opera house. It’s from the Derby Public Library’s local history collection.
The photo depicts two men, one playing a violin. Neither man has been identified and the photograph does not have a date. The location of the photo was identified as the second floor of the opera house.
Derby’s Markanthony Izzo said flyers will be hung around the city asking the public to look for photos. A copy of the flyer is posted below. Article continues after the document.
“There has to be more photographs out there somewhere. It’s just a matter of finding them,” Izzo said.
Izzo is using the media, personal connections and the local senior centers to track down more photographs.
Interior photographs of the opera house would benefit the current restoration project by providing insight into what it looked like while operational, Mayor Anthony Staffieri said.
“What we really need right now is pictures of the inside of the theater so we can actually restore it to its original state,” Staffieri said.
So far, all information on the interior of Sterling has come from articles in the Evening Sentinel from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
If officials want to copy the color patterns of the old theater, it’s possible.
“We’re fortunate in that the newspapers back then were much more local,” said Robert Novak, executive director of the Derby Historical Society.
“Often, the Sterling Opera House would renovate and the newspaper would describe the colors of the walls, the trim, the carpets. These are invaluable,” Novak said.