Another piece of history razed

Posted August 20, 2013 at 11:00 pm

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
August 21, 2013

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The Grand Opera House located at Seventh and Walnut is this week’s historic postcard, made in Germany and a wonderful example of a hand-colored card of the day.

The message on the back is barely legible in spots but can still be made out. It reads: “Dear Gunnild, How are you? We are fine and dandy. Thank you for the nice postal cards you sent me. You must come over Sunday, ask your mother if you can’t. I haven’t very much to reveal, but I think I have to close for this time. Tell Gilda hello from me. Love, Freida.”

The card was mailed to Miss Gunnild Homme, RFD 1, Thompson, N.D.

The Grand was built on the site of the old Midland Theater that once stood on the same site. The Midland opened to much fanfare on Sept. 1, 1889. Interestingly, it was razed less than a year later, and the Grand Opera House was built on the same site by Abraham Judah and Melville Hudson, former manager of the Coates Opera House.

Opening in 1891 as a stage venue, the Grand saw such notable actors as Ethel Barrymore and George M. Cohan play its stage. A drug store stood to the right of the main canopy, and a saloon operated on the left side of the main entrance. Inside the opera house’s walls were fine oil paintings to greet the “highbrow” clientele who patronized the saloon between acts of the plays.

The building was remodeled in 1902, and 15 years later announced as a film screening spot. Business faltered, though, and on Christmas Day in 1921, the theater closed. The Scarritt estate transitioned the structure to an automobile parking garage in 1926 and was razed in 2009.