TX-4855 Site of Old Opera House


1883-1894) Typical of the efforts of early communities to bring culture to the frontier, the Elks Opera House was also the scene of traveling theatricals, local amateur dramas, and reunions of Confederate veterans. Sometimes called the Barnes Opera House (for owner) it presented "Ten Nights in a Bar Room," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "East Lynn," and other popular plays of the late 19th century, as well as musical programs. Modern for the times, it was lighted by brilliant chandeliers and had brown leather chairs extending in tiers to the orchestra pit. The drop curtain was a woodland scene on a flaming red background. When the structure burned in 1894, it was not rebuilt. Several hundred opera houses sprang up in Texas between the decades of the Republic and World War I. Every major town had one, and opera companies from San Francisco, Chicago, and Cincinnati made annual tours, sometimes playing a town two weeks. Opera houses also helped curb the influence of theaters and music halls, whose public reputation unfortunately matched that of the saloons and gambling houses. With the advent of the automobile, radio, and motion picture in the early 20th century, however, audiences declined and the opera house era came to a close.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1967

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