“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Ridgway in Elk County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Ridgway Opera House

Ridgway "Lily of the Valley"

Ridgway Opera House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, August 6, 2022
1. Ridgway Opera House Marker
" a gem in its setting among the hills that surround it. Our public schools give us transcendent educational privileges; the churches, a high tone of morals, and society exemplifies the democratic dictum of equality, so that to be a citizen of Ridgway is a distinction to be proud of. Shall these things remain forever? I hope so." -J.D. Fullerton, Ridgway Advocate, 1896

By 1896, Ridgway's prosperity, reaped from the region's forests, waters, and land, had transformed the community. The town was home to 2500 residents, three newspapers, abundant stores and hotels, eight churches, and 24 manufacturing businesses producing lumber, leather, heavy machinery, millwork, ice cream, bricks, flour, medicines, carriages, and candy.

Twenty years earlier, Joseph Smith Hyde had opened Ridgway's first opera house on the third floor of the Hall, Kaul, and Hyde Store, and in the years that followed several other performance halls sprang up. But the Ridgway Opera House designed by Walter P. Murphy and H. C. Park and meticulously crafted by the Hyde-Murphy Company in 1897-was the grandest of them all. Though J.S.
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Hyde's son William H. Hyde and O. B. Grant owned the opera house, Walter P. Murphy is remembered as "Father of the New Opera House" for his vision that shaped the beautiful building.

Culture and Community
The Ridgway Opera House seated 1,163 people for plays, vaudeville acts, musicals, and operas, and concerts. Eight years after the grand opening, an arsonist set fire to the opera house, destroying it. Undaunted, the owners rebuilt it. In 1926, the Opera House became known as the Strand Theatre, a show house for silent movies and, by the early 30s, "talkies."

A Grand Opening
On opening night, April 20, 1897, the Ridgway Opera House was stunning to behold. Sagegreen French brocade framed an intricately hand painted stage curtain, and salmon-colored French damask softened the tiered box seats. Light olive velours draped the entrance and promenade. A $1,500 Chickering piano awaited its first performance. An eager audience watched the popular play, "A Texas Steer," the first of many productions staged in that exquisite setting.

(Photo Captions):

Ridgway Opera House

The Strand Theatre

Interior of the Ridgway Opera House

Bicycle built for two

All photos courtesy Elk County Historical Society
Erected by
Ridgway Opera House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, August 6, 2022
2. Ridgway Opera House Marker
View is looking west.
Stackpole-Hall Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EntertainmentIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1896.
Location. 41° 25.351′ N, 78° 43.715′ W. Marker is in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, in Elk County. Marker is on Main Street (U.S. 219) east of North Broad Street (U.S. 219), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 325 Main Street, Ridgway PA 15853, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hall, Kaul, and Hyde Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Hyde Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Calvin and Juliet McCauley Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); Elk County (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Veterans Memorial (about 400 feet away); James Gallagher Home (about 500 feet away); Elk County Courthouse (about 500 feet away); Pioneer Cemetery (approx. 8.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ridgway.
Ridgway Opera House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, August 6, 2022
3. Ridgway Opera House Marker
This plaque is just steps away from the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2022. It was originally submitted on August 28, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 163 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 28, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 4, 2024