Grand Opera House (Wilmington, Delaware)

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Masonic Hall and Grand Theater
Grand Opera House Wilmington.JPG
Cast-iron facade of building
Grand Opera House (Wilmington, Delaware) is located in Delaware
Grand Opera House (Wilmington, Delaware)
Location 818 N Market St, Wilmington, Delaware
Coordinates 39°44′38″N 75°32′55″W / 39.74389°N 75.54861°W / 39.74389; -75.54861Coordinates: 39°44′38″N 75°32′55″W / 39.74389°N 75.54861°W / 39.74389; -75.54861
Built 1871
Architect Thomas Dixon, Charles L. Carson
Architectural style Second Empire
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 72000294
Added to NRHP December 11, 1972[1]

The Grand Opera House, also known as The Grand or Masonic Hall and Grand Theater, is a 1,208-seat theater for the performing arts in Wilmington, Delaware. The four-story building was built in 1871 by the Delaware Grand Lodge of Masons to serve as a Masonic Temple and auditorium. The construction cost was $100,000.[2] It was designed in Second Empire style by Baltimore architect Thomas Dixon and incorporates symbolism from Freemasonry into the cast-iron facade.

Historically, the Grand hosted a variety of operas, symphonies, Victorian melodramas, minstrel shows, burlesque, vaudeville, and other exhibitions, including performers such as Ethel Barrymore, "Buffalo Bill" Cody and John Philip Sousa. For most of the twentieth century the Grand was operated exclusively as a movie theater, run by Warner Brothers from 1930 and eventually closing in 1967. It was reopened four years later and returned to programming emphasizing classical music, partnering with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, OperaDelaware, and the First State Ballet Theatre.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 with assertions of both architectural and historical significance. It was argued it is "one of the finest remaining examples of 19th century cast iron architecture in America" and that it has important association with events and persons in Delaware's history.[1][3]

In 1973, management was turned over to a non-profit organization and the building underwent extensive restoration, which was completed in 1976.

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