The historic Moroni Opera House, built in 1891 - and vacant for the past several decades - has come back to life as a community center.

According to Ramona Harris, whose grandfather helped build the theater and who has been involved in restoring the building, there has been a spurt of old-fashioned "barn-raising" activity in recent weeks to move the building from a state of neglect and disrepair into a facility that can be used for a variety of community functions.The newly restored Opera House was formally opened on Friday and Saturday with three performances of a melodrama, "Wash Your Troubles Away," two of which were dinner-theater affairs featuring prime rib.

Instead of theater-style seating, there are portable round banquet tables and folding chairs, enabling the building to be used for dances, family reunions, theater and other community events.

"My grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Morley, and another man, Mons Monson, built the Opera House in 1891," said Harris. Morley put up $2,000 cash and Monson contributed the land.

Crews of inmates from the state prison worked on part of the rehabilitation project, including work on the foundation. The Utah Department of Transportation has also redesigned the passing lanes in front of the theater (located at the south end of Moroni where Main Street turns west), and installed new curb and gutter.

An old sign, which has stood in front of the building for nearly 10 years, announcing "phase one" of the restoration project, has been replaced with a banner emblazoned with "Renewing our history."