Music Hall: How a City Built a Theater and a Theater Shaped a City

By J. Dennis Robinson

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This fully researched, color illustrated history traces the cultural development of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from the arrival of its first settlers. The Music Hall was built in 1878 and expanded by “ale tycoon” Frank Jones in 1901. Within these brick walls generations have watched America evolve from minstrel shows to musicals and Hollywood blockbusters, from animal acts to symphony orchestras, and from vaudeville to TEDx talks. Shuttered and decaying during World War II, New Hampshire’s vintage venue went on the auction block in 1945. It served as a movie house for the next four decades. Saved from demolition by a grassroots team of volunteers in the 1980s and gradually restored to its Victorian splendor, it has been pivotal in revitalizing the city’s downtown. Signature programs like the “Telluride by the Sea Film Festival” and “Writers on a New England Stage” put this historic theater on the national map. A must-read for anyone who cherishes the performing arts.