Grand 1894 Opera House

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The Grand 1894 Opera House
Galveston Grand Opera House.jpg
Grand 1894 Opera House is located in Texas
Grand 1894 Opera House
Location 2012--2020 Ave. E, Galveston, Texas
Coordinates 29°18′19″N 94°47′27″W / 29.30528°N 94.79083°W / 29.30528; -94.79083Coordinates: 29°18′19″N 94°47′27″W / 29.30528°N 94.79083°W / 29.30528; -94.79083
Built 1895
Architect Cox,Frank
Architectural style Romanesque
NRHP Reference # 74002071[1]

The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas is currently operated as a not-for-profit performing arts theatre. The Romanesque Revival style Opera House is located at 2020 Post Office Street in Galveston's Historic Downtown Cultural Arts District. It was named "The Official Opera House of Texas" in 1993 by the 73rd Texas Legislature.[2]

History[edit]

In 1894, Henry Greenwall raised $100,000 for construction of The Grand Opera House and Hotel in Galveston. The Grand has stood through notable hurricanes, including the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, Galveston Hurricane of 1915, Hurricane Carla, and Hurricane Ike. The Grand began as a major, live performing arts theatre but after passing through a Vaudeville phase, it slowly evolved into a movie house. The movie house was sold in 1974 and purchased the same year by the Galveston County Cultural Arts Council. They transformed the movie house back into a theatre and then renovated and restored it to its former beauty. The restoration included volunteer efforts and support from private foundations. The theatre was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as "1894 Grand Opera House" in 1974.[1] The Galveston County Cultural Arts Council owned the Opera House until 1986, when it became a stand alone organization known as 1894,Inc. Maureen M. Patton is The Grand's Executive Director, having served as Director under the Arts Council beginning in 1981. Hurricane Ike hit Galveston Island on September 13, 2008, but The Grand was reopened on January 3, 2009 on its 114th anniversary. All of the damage that the hurricane and the flood had caused was repaired with only 92 days of construction.

Notable Performers[edit]

The Grand also has been the presenter of several premieres: Red White & Tuna and Tuna Does Vegas, two of four comedic plays written and performed by Greater Tuna creators, Jaston Williams and Joe Sears; and ANN, a one-woman play about the life of Texas Governor Ann Richards, written and performed by Holland Taylor.

Architecture[edit]

"When it opened in 1895, the 70' x 37' x 69' stage was THE LARGEST IN THE STATE OF TEXAS and one of the largest in the country... Even today, a stage whisper can be heard without a microphone, and no seat is more than 70 feet from the stage."

The Grand has been through natural disasters, such as fires and hurricanes, as well as neglect during its time as a movie house. It has been rebuilt and remodeled more than once, such as during the devastating Galveston Hurricane of 1900, when its rear wall and roof caved in.

The front wall of the building is made of red stone, brick, and terra cotta; the large, glass doors are framed by a carved, Romanesque style stone arch. Inside, the glass box office sits in between the two sets of doors. The carpet is a red, patterned velvet to match the roses and ribbons painted on the ceiling. The banisters and railings are golden metal, the floors are marble tile, and the walls are pine wainscot. A large, stone statue of a woman holding a torch stands beside a grand, wooden staircase. The different floors are decorated with crystal chandeliers and paintings by famous artists such as Theodore Beher. Inside the theater auditorium, red, velvet curtains frame the stage and eight opera boxes. Blue velvet lines the chairs and intricate paintings cover the walls. The stage backdrop, painted by architect Frank Cox, is a large canvas with the theme of "Sappho and Companions".

References[edit]

Galveston County Cultural Arts Council, comp. Galveston Arts! Presents Live Onstage At The 1894 Grand Opera House. N.p.: n.p., 1984. Print. Patton, Maureen. "The Grand 1894 Opera House." Telephone interview. 29 Jan. 2015.

External links[edit]