The Albemarle Opera House is one of Albemarle, North
Carolina’s best known landmarks. A book is now
available that chronicles the ownership and activities
that have taken place in the building since it was built
in 1907/08 to the present.
Located on Main Street in downtown Albemarle, the Opera
House building is listed in the National Register of
Historic Places. The building was built by local
Albemarle contractor Locke Anderson Moody and is
currently owned by Gene Starnes, a descendant of the
original owners, F.E. Starnes, D.F. Parker and J.C.
Over the years the Opera House hosted live performances,
housed various businesses, and served as a meeting hall,
a dance hall, and as storage space. The book explores
the history of this Albemarle landmark and the people
involved in its story from its beginning until the
present. Portions of the book address businesses that
have been located in the street front stores and in the
upstairs offices. One section covers information about
the performance hall and the many uses of that large
space. No book about the opera house would be complete
without mention of the rumors of ghosts.
The book includes many pictures, newspaper articles, and
ads about people and events important to the history of
Lewis P. Bramlett, who compiled the book Albemarle
Opera House, is the great-grandson of F.E. Starnes,
Sr. one of the original owners of the building. Lewis
was always fascinated by stories about the Opera House
that he heard from his grandfather, Francis Starnes, and
later from his uncle Gene Starnes. During his teenage
years he worked at Starnes Jewelry Store after school
and never passed up an opportunity to go up to the Opera
House. The stories he heard from his grandfather and
uncle continued to pique his interest into adulthood.
Over a period of years he has researched the history of
the building and compiled all of the known information
into one resource. In June 2012 Bramlett presented a
program for the Stanly County Museum on the Albemarle
Opera House building based on the information he had at
that time. His research continued and he was able to
discover additional information which has been included
in the book.
Bramlett is a graduate of Albemarle High School and The
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He
currently resides in Kennesaw, GA, with his wife and two
sons. Lewis has always been interested in history
including the history of Albemarle.