DeGive's Opera House
DeGive's Opera House was the main venue for opera in Atlanta from 1871 until 1893.
History and location
There are varying accounts of the construction and location of DeGive's Opera House. The Atlanta History Center describes how Belgian consul Laurent DeGive purchased an unfinished building at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth and hired architect and civil engineer Max Corput to design the opera house. This location, however, was the site of the Kimball opera house, which predated the DeGive Opera House.
Reed's History of Atlanta states that Atlanta's antebellum Masonic Hall was destroyed in a fire in May, 1866. The site stated to be at the corner of Marietta and Broad (not Forsyth), was then purchased, and the firm of Fay & Corput designed the new opera house which was dedicated on February 22, 1871.
The opera house was expanded in 1873-4 to accommodate over 2,000 people.
In 1893, DeGive opened the new, larger DeGive's Grand Opera House, which would later become Loew's Grand Theatre, at Peachtree and Forsyth. The original DeGive's Opera House was later occupied by the Columbia Theater and later by the Bijou Theater. The building was demolished in 1921 to make way for the construction of the Palmer Building, which is in turn replaced by 41 Marietta St by 1976.
Earlier opera house
DeGive's was not the first opera house in Atlanta. The first shows performed in Atlanta predate the American Civil War and were primarily performed in makeshift facilities modified for the operatic arts. Reconstruction saw the formation of the Atlanta Opera House and Building Association. The association obtained the southwest corner of Marietta Street and Forsythe Street to construct a five-story opera house. By 1868, they were out of money. Instead of hosting great performances, Atlanta's first opera house, the Kimball Opera House as it was later known, was sold at a loss. It served as Georgia's state capitol from January 1869 to July 1889.
- "DeGive's Opera House", Atlanta History Center
- Wallace Putam Reed, History of Atlanta, Georgia: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, p.568
- "Our Opera House", Atlanta Sunday Herald, Sep. 14, 1873, p. 11
- Reed, Wallace Putnam (1889). History of Atlanta, Georgia, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co. pp. art I 278, Part II, 162–168.