The Opera House - Corvallis, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 44° 33.813 W 123° 15.760
10T E 479141 N 4934502
This historical marker is located on the corner of SW Madison and SW 4th Streets in downtown Corvallis.
Waymark Code: WMFJ9Q
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 10/25/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 3

The Opera House historical marker highlights this site where a former city hall once existed from 1870 to 1950. This site now is home to the Benton County Bank. The following words on this marker describe the history of this former opera house:

The Opera House was built on this site in 1870. It was a wooden building with a porch and covered entrance which faced on Fourth Street. The residents of Corvallis raised the money by subscription and donated their labor to build it. Inside there was a horshoes-shaped gallery facing the stage. Movable straight-backed chairs provided the seating. It was heated by three large wood-burning stoves.

Initially, the Opera House was used for dancing, roller-skating, city band performances, and box socials. In 1887, when the cornerstone for the first building of the State Agricultural College was laid at the site of Benton Hall, there was a gala banquet held in the Opera House to celebrate this auspicious beginning.

Also in 1886, the first real stage play, Rice's Evangeline, filled the Opera House to capacity. Eight hundred people were seated, and there were others standing. It was the first time that girls wearing tights were seen in Corvallis!

In 1901, the shocked and saddened citizens held a memorial service in the Opera House for the assassinated president of the United States, William McKinley.

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Happier events such as high school and Corvallis College graduation ceremonies were held here. In 1910, there was professional entertainment, such as the The Taming of the Shrew, featuring Charles Hanford, Miss Marie Drofnah, and a company of thrity. Equally popular was a production of Pinafore, performed by Oregon Agricultural College's Madrigal and Glee Clubs under the direction of Professor W.F. Gaskins.

Frank Groves was the manager of the Opera House from 1905 until 1914. By then, the era of travelling dramas and minstrel shows was ending. In 1915, Mr. Groves decided to rent the major part of the building to the Gazette-Times newspaper. The pressed were moved into the Opera House, and remained there until 1926. When the Gazette-Times moved into its own built building, other businesses moved into the Opera House. These included Russell's Second Hand Store, and Witzig's Electric Co.

The Opera House was torn down in 1950 when the site became a parking lot for a Safeway Store. The Benton County Bank was erected here in 1977.

This historical marker was placed in 1984 by the Madison Avenue Task Force. It is comprised of a volunteer group of citizens who's mission is to provide a walking tour of downtown Corvallis for pedestrians to pause and appreciate Corvallis' history and art. Many historical markers and art objects are strategically placed throughout the walking tour. Click here to go to their website and learn more about other historical markers and works of art located downtown.

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: Historical Society

Marker Type: City

Region: Willamette Valley

County: Benton

Web link to additional information: [Web Link]

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

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Tootsie.22 visited The Opera House - Corvallis, OR 05/03/2022 Tootsie.22 visited it