“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Newton in Harvey County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Ragsdale Opera House


Ragsdale Opera House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Fillmon, April 3, 2014
1. Ragsdale Opera House Marker
Inscription.  The Ragsdale Opera House served as Newton's main center of entertainment for nearly 30 years. The grand opening was held on December 8, 1885, featuring Barney McCauley in the comedy Uncle Dan. Under constructions since May 29, 1884, it was completed at a cost of $80,000. Located on this corner, the building measured 75x150 feet. The theater was at the west end of the second and third floors. The ground floor consisted of six business rooms, one of which was occupied by Newton's Post Office. Seating capacity of the theatre was 800, exclusive of eight elegant private boxes which seated five each. There was a dress circle, a parquet, a balcony, and a gallery, ornamented in the latest fashions. The stage was 30x50 feet and reached from the stage floor to the top of the building. There were 32 sets of scenery. The belfry contained a three-faced Seth Thomas clock with a 600 pound bell that could be heard a distance of two miles on a quiet day. Every portion of the building was lighted with gas and heated with steam. The builders, James M. Ragsdale and his brother, Thaddeus P. Ragsdale, quit a small grocery business in 1879 and became successful in
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real estate, limber, cattle, and banking. They became bankrupt in 1890 and lost possession of the Opera House in 1892. The Opera Block continued to carry the Ragsdale name until J.H. Knoepker, who purchased the building on March 1, 1905, renamed it the Knoepker Opera House in 1907. On January 1, 1915, a fire destroyed the Opera House and several other businesses on the block.
Erected by The Harvey County Historical Society.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureArts, Letters, Music. In addition, it is included in the Kansas, Harvey County Historical Society series list. A significant historical date for this entry is December 8, 1885.
Location. 38° 2.997′ N, 97° 20.714′ W. Marker is in Newton, Kansas, in Harvey County. Marker is at the intersection of North Main Street (State Highway 15) and West Broadway Street, on the left when traveling north on North Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newton KS 67114, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Anderson Book and Office Supply (a few steps from this marker); The Masonic Lodge (within shouting distance of this marker); First Presbyterian Church (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Midland National Bank (about 600 feet away);
Ragsdale Opera House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tim Fillmon, April 3, 2014
2. Ragsdale Opera House
John Jacob Krehbiel Memorial Park (about 700 feet away); Unknown Dead of the Civil War (about 800 feet away); The Harvey County Courthouse (about 800 feet away); Coastal Defense Cannon (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newton.
Also see . . .  New Year's Day Disaster. (Submitted on February 4, 2021, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on February 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 4, 2021, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida. This page has been viewed 321 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 4, 2021, by Tim Fillmon of Webster, Florida.
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Feb. 24, 2024