McPherson Opera House - McPherson, Ks
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 38° 22.045 W 097° 40.008
14S E 616467 N 4247423
Quick Description: This three story brown brick building is located at 219 South Main Street in McPherson, Ks.
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 4/3/2015 6:23:13 PM
Waymark Code: WMNMEV
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member lumbricus
Views: 0

Long Description:
From the National Register application:
(visit link)

"The McPherson Opera House located at the northeast corner of Main and Sutherland streets is a rectangular three-story building with a basement. This large Eclectic style structure measures approximately 130 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 40 feet high. The roof is steeply pitched in a mansard effect for several feet and then becomes a flat tar roof.

A main entrance to the opera house is on the south side within a massive two-story stone arch. Above the arch is a carved stone balustrade. At the third floor level is another stone and brick arch, which in turn is capped by a large decorated stone gable. The double doors at the first floor are flanked by granite columns within the archway. The entrance way with its decorative stone work is one of the most impressive features of the building.

The exterior walls are of red brick and limestone and are topped
by a stone cornice. A horizontal band of cut stone separates the first and second floors and a protruding band of brick on the south and stone on the west separates the second and third floors. Brick
pilasters vertically divide the west facade into three symmetrical sections and the south facade into eight sections, some of them of unequal size. Each brick pilaster terminates above the roof line with a unique brick and stone pinnacle.

All windows are rectangular, although there may originally have been some with curved sides in the entrance arch. Doors are likewise rectangular and both doors and windows had wood frames. However, many of the present window frames are of metal. All first floor windows on the south facade have arched stone lintels as well as stone jambs. Second floor windows on the south have horizontal stone lintels. Those on the west have a horizontal brick lintel with a stone keystone. All third floor windows have an arched lintel of a stone and brick combination. Stone sills are common to all windows. Many of the window openings on the south side have been bricked shut.

On the west front a flat-roofed porch overhangs the sidewalk at the first floor level and shelters the entrances. An arched stone design centered on the west facade encloses windows on the second and third floors. A stone gable similar to the one on the south is located over the arched design at the roof line. At the very bottom of the gable raised stone letters spell out "OPERA HOUSE."

Visible alterations appear to be confined to the building's windows with many on the south side bricked shut and the semicircular arches of the third floor windows filled in with metal siding.

The McPherson Opera House built in 1889 was for many years an important community center in McPherson. The first opera house in town had been located on the second floor of the Bank of McPherson building from 1880 to 1889, but as McPherson grew and prospered the Opera House Company, with E. G. Clark as president, decided on March 25, 1888, to construct a new opera house. Work commenced the following week with contracts being let to Ellison and Linn for the stone basement and to W. G. Reynolds for the building. By June the stone work was almost finished and the entire building was completed by mid-January, 1889, at an approximate cost of $40,000. At the grand opening on January 28, the Modoc Club of Topeka presented an opera entitled "Chimes of Normandy." The building's 900 seats were filled and box office receipts that evening amounted to $900.

From April, 1889, until December 6, 1894, the McPherson county commissioners rented the building, except for the main_hall, at an annual fee of $1,400 for use as county offices until the new county courthouse was completed. The opera house was used for public meetings, political rallies and stage shows until late in 1925 when it closed its doors. Several reasons were suggested for its closure: the competition of movies was forcing the road shows to go to the larger cities; some people were concerned about what they believed to be the poor condition of the opera house building and its lack of adequate fire escapes; and it simply was no longer profitable to run an opera house.

An announcement was made in May, 1929, that the building would re-open as a modern motion picture theater, the "Empire." The initial response was overwhelming and 200 people had to be turned away on opening night, May 8; however, the competition of a rival theater proved to be too great, and the venture was closed in July, 1929. It did not re-open as a theater again until the late 1930's when it became the "Mac" theater. Later the opera house was completely re- modeled into apartments and business establishments. In 1971 the building housed an antique shop and a jewelry store.

The McPherson Opera House had an important role in the development of the McPherson community. It was, in effect, the county courthouse for five years while the present courthouse was under construction. For better than 30 years it hosted many of McPherson's cultural activities. Additionally, this structure is an excellent example of opera house architecture in the Plains. Although the exterior is renovated to a minor degree, it has retained the character and quality of its original appearance."

From the Opera House website:
(visit link)

"In 1986, the McPherson Opera House Preservation Company was formed to save the building from demolition and to restore it to community use. Although many in McPherson had affection for the Opera House, most felt the derelict building was beyond repair, and the consensus was that the Preservation Company, although well intentioned, had little hope of success.

The early supporters of the Opera House are genuine heroes. They devoted countless hours to the backbreaking, dirty, and dangerous work necessary to prepare the Opera House for its eventual rehabilitation. Time and again, against seemingly impossible odds, they saved the building from the wrecking ball.

Their early work paved the way for the completion of the Opera House, an $8,500,000 project. The west commercial portion was put into service in February 2007, and the auditorium had a Grand Reopening on January 28, 2010, exactly 121 years after the original Grand Opening.

Funding came from individual donors, foundations, government and private grants, as well as from State and Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits - government done right. Special thanks to those McPherson voters who passed the one-half percent special-use sales tax that made the completion of the project possible.

The McPherson Opera House has won numerous awards for its architectural excellence, accolades from performers who love the auditorium for its acoustics and intimacy, and from patrons who appreciate the quality of the performances. The rental spaces, because of their historic charm and 21st-century amenities, have also won wide praise."

Pictures taken and permission for their use given by Melissa Fisher.
Theater Name: McPherson Opera House

Country: USA

219 South Main Street
McPherson, Ks United States

Web Site: [Web Link]

Venue: Community Theater

Type of Productions:
Multi use facility that has different types of productions in their auditorium that seat 488.

Restored Building: yes

Date of Construction: 1889

Architect/Designer: W. G. Reynolds

Stage Type: Proscenium

Seating Capacity: 488

Special Productions/Events/Festivals: Not listed

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