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Philanthropists Dave and Brenda Rickey Offer 125th Birthday Match for Contributions to Endowed Fund for Continuing Maintenance

The Grand Dame of Geneva’s downtown is celebrating a big birthday. The Smith Opera House is turning 125 years old!

Hailed as one of the longest operating theaters in the country, The Smith opened its doors on October 29, 1894 with a production of The Count of Monte Cristo, starring James O’Neill, father of playwright Eugene O’Neill. Since that auspicious beginning the theater has brought such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen and Itzhak Perlman to town, screened thousands of movies, provided the stage for hundreds of high school graduates – and, at least twice, faced a wrecking ball.

Throughout 2019, The Smith will be celebrating with special concerts, films and events tied to its remarkable history. And of course, as with any big birthday, presents are in order.

Many of the Smith’s admirers have already started the party by contributing to an Endowed Fund for Continuing Maintenance. This endowment will help pay for the many nips and tucks required to keep the majestic building vibrant, healthy and relevant. To date, board members of the Smith Center for the Arts, stewards of the opera house, and other supporters have raised more than half of the $125,000 goal.

With the help of philanthropists Dave and Brenda Rickey, the Smith Center for the Arts brings the campaign to the Smith’s many audiences with added incentive. The Rickeys will match every donation to this endowment fund through the October 28, 2019 birthday, enabling donors to double their gift.

Dave and Brenda Rickey (photo by Jan Regan Photography)

“We recognize what a remarkable asset the Smith Opera House is, and has been, to the Geneva community for all these 125 years,” says Dave Rickey.  “This fund is a wonderful way to ensure that this extraordinary theater and all it offers stays strong for future generations to enjoy.”

Birthday gifts will be gratefully accepted online at, or by mail: The Smith Center for the Arts, 82 Seneca Street, Geneva, NY 14456.

“Dave and Brenda are philanthropic leaders in Geneva. We are so grateful that they recognize the contribution that The Smith and its dynamic programming make to the quality of life here,” says Susie Monagan, Executive Director of the Smith Center for the Arts.  “We invite the current generation of Genevans to continue the support of the generations before us who have provided for the care of this remarkable building.”

The Smith Center for the Arts provides diverse arts and educational enrichment opportunities year-round for Finger Lakes residents and visitors. The Smith Opera House is at 82 Seneca St. in Geneva, NY. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. For more information, call 315-781-5483 during box office hours or visit