In 1907 and only two years from the time Woodland was a forested, largely uninhabited wilderness, Charles Murray, an immigrant from Italy, built the Woodland Opera House to provide the then boom town a venue for entertainment. The St. Croix Paper Mill was built by immigrant Italians, and they loved opera. Murray’s Hall, which became known as the “Opera House,” was dedicated on December 31, 1907. A special train from Calais brought guests to the Grand Ball.
Murray made his countryman, Michael Foggia, its manager and for over half a century the “Opera House” was the social center of the town. Located just outside the mill gate, it featured vaudeville, plays, dancing, and even prize fights in the early years. By the roaring twenties moving pictures were the central attraction and, in the thirties, bowling alleys were added. It hosted high school graduations and school plays in the days Woodland’s school had no gym. Mike Foggia, who soon bought the building, opened a store on the first floor which became known for its fresh Italian bread.
The business closed in the late 1950s, and the building was razed. The site now provides parking for the mill.
Caption written by Al Churchill