Lunenburg has the distinct honour of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This honor is reserved for locations of unique, cultural significance or natural beauty. Lunenburg is one of two, urban World Heritage Sites in continental North America (Old Quebec is the other).
The town achieved UNESCO distinction for its well-planned conception as a fishing village and the remarkable conservation of its original town-centre: a colonial harbour-settlement with impressive wooden architecture. In short, Lunenburg is the world’s best-preserved, British-colonial fishing village – and the Lunenburg Opera House (LOH) sits at its centre.
The LOH was built by the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows (IOOF): a fraternal order, originating in Britain and chapters throughout North America. The cornerstone of the LOH was laid in 1907, with its first performance in January 1909.
The ingenuity of Lunenburg’s fine shipbuilders and craftsmen (who built the LOH) is evidenced by the unique, architectural features that enhance both the acoustics and aesthetics of the building. The floor’s joists are laminated and made to curve in the direction of the stage, they provide support to the dished floor above while simultaneously enhancing the acoustics. The joists mimic the hidden framework that one might find beneath the facade of a guitar or inside the hull of a schooner. The exterior is simple but majestic – a testament to the sensibilities of the South Shore.