Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Every now and then one of our readers sends us a letter in which he suggests some historical item which he would like to have included in this column. We appreciate these letters and our only regret is that we don't receive more of them. For example, Mrs. Etta Hamilton, of North Webster has suggested that we include a column on Theodore Dreiser's life in Warsaw. We plan to do this at an early date.

Several inquires have come to us concerning the Warsaw Opera House which we have mentioned a number of times in this column. This Opera House was the show place of Warsaw for about thirty-seven years.

On March 25, 1873, six Warsaw men formed a stock company for the purpose of financing the building of the Opera House. Andrew J. Bair and John N. Runyan were president and secretary, respectively, of the group. B. G. Cosgrove drew up the plans for the new building. When constructed, the building had six store rooms on the ground floor and a basement under them. On the second floor was the hall itself. The audience room seated one thousand and the gallery could seat about 650 more. The building still stands at the southwest corner of Market and Indiana streets.

Dramatic productions, medicine shows, band concerts, political meetings, high school commencements, walking marathons and masquerade carnivals were among the activities going on in this hall over the years that it was the entertainment center of Warsaw. In January of 1885 the Rice Opera Company presented the "Mikado". In 1886 "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Hamlet" were put on by traveling stock companies. Probably man of our readers attended shows at the Opera House.

The hall was condemned for show purposes about 1910.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Mar. 3, 1953