With the start of the new year, BFMV’s Newnan office relocated to a unique downtown location with a long, colorful past: the historic 1882 Reese Opera House. Anchoring the court square’s southeast corner, this elegant edifice has overlooked the Coweta County Courthouse lawn through distinctive Palladian windows for generations. While the building’s exterior has maintained a timeless appearance, interior renovations have kept up with the changing times and needs of its spectrum of occupants.
Dr. J.T. Reese, the founder and namesake of the establishment, was a pharmacist who purchased and developed the property “at great personal expense” over 140 years ago. Reese’s Opera House was a popular luxury destination for locals and travelers in the late 1800’s as Georgians were increasingly moving from agrarian lifestyles into cities and towns. The Opera House’s looming upper floor hosted musical and comedy shows, while the ground floor met more practical demands for the community, housing Dr. Reese’s drugstore, a grocer, a jeweler, and a dry goods mercantile with featured tobacco sales.
Newspaper Article (1882)
Following a decrease in demand for live musical entertainment, the Opera House was renovated in 1904. The large upstairs space was divided into two floors, which were leased by the Newnan School of Telegraphy, a prestigious institution boasting top-of-the-line equipment, including main line wires, for courses in telegraphy, stenography, and bookkeeping. The school attracted male and female students from Georgia and states far beyond; they came to Newnan to study these trades over several months and then moved on as successful alumni with lifelong careers around the world. Unfortunately, after a thriving venture, the prized institution was forced to shut down in 1930 in the wake of the Great Depression.
Advertisement for the Newnan School of Telegraphy (1908)
Following the school’s closure, the upper floors of the still-named "Opera House" contained a beauty parlor and several law firms for much of the mid-century. While the top floors accommodated audiences and educators over the years, the ground level persisted as the domain of commercial enterprise. Between 1893 and 1978, the first floor — eventually subdivided as well — held, among others, the Reese Drug Store, a restaurant, a shoe store, a photography studio, H.S. Banta Jewelers, a barber shop, a household appliances store, and a school supplies and gift shop.
Southeast Corner (1920s)
Southeast Corner (1980s)
The Bank of Coweta renovated the space from 1978 to 1980 and installed offices and a teller lobby. Ownership shifted to 75 Jackson Properties, a property management firm, in the early 2000s. Following a 2009 renovation, the Reese Opera House received The Newnan-Coweta Historical Society 2010 Preservation Award.
A central piece in Newnan’s charming downtown district, the opera house has featured in the background of various films capitalizing on the picturesque setting. For example, see Zombieland (2009).
Scene from Zombieland (2009)
Most recently, the space has been leased to SouthCrest Bank, several law firms, financial advisors, and now, BuckheadFMV. BFMV is delighted to be among the long line of Reese Opera House caretakers and looks forward to living out our next chapter as part of this proud structure’s legacy.