The Musquodoboit Valley Bicentennial Theatre was originally constructed in 1928 as a meeting hall for the Odd Fellow’s Lodge.The main floor provided meeting rooms for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Craigmyle Lodge #141and Elm View Rebekah Lodge and a large main floor meeting room with a kitchen at the back.
The top floor housed a 350-seat live theatre with graduated floor, stage, and a dressing room cleverly built between the two upper levels. The basement housed two long, narrow rooms: one sported a 2-lane bowling alley (still being used in the 1980s) and in the other was a long dining room which provided space to serve community suppers.
The Odd Fellow’s Hall was the centre for entertainment for more than 50 years. In the early days, silent films were shown in the upstairs theatre with background music supplied by an in-house piano player. Traveling shows performed at the Odd Fellows’ Hall including Don Messer and Wilf Carter.
Over time, however, Lodge membership dwindled and the building fell in to disrepair. In 1981, the group struck an agreement with the Middle Musquodoboit Community Hall Association and the building sold for $1, with the understanding that if the building ceased to function or operate for any reason, it would be returned to “the Odd Fellows of this Valley.”
At about this same time, the ownership of the building, itself, was taken over by the Municipality of Halifax County, known today as Halifax Regional Municipality. In 1983, which was the Musquodoboit Valley’s Bicentennial Year (1783 – 1983), renovations began when provincial and municipal grants, as well as local donations, were acquired by the first elected Board. As the communities that make up the Musquodoboit Valley marked their 200th anniversary, plans were underway to refurbish the former I.O.O.F. Hall.
The newly-named Musquodoboit Valley Bicentennial Theatre and Cultural Centre came alive once more at its grand reopening on Feb. 16, 1985.
In the summer of 2002, Halifax Regional Municipality contributed extensively to the Gill Restoration Project and necessary structural improvements to the building. Click HERE for details about our 19th century stage art restoration.
The restored 1892 Italianate Garden Scene has hung just behind the proscenium since 2004 and may be viewed upon request.