22 N. 5th Street,
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Opened on January 20, 1880, the Schultz Opera House was designed in a high Victorian style by Chicago architect Oscar Cobb. Judging from old photos, the ornate facade was probably made of cast iron, then a popular building material. The interior was described some years later by one observer as "…most perfect and convenient, in all its appointments, and second only to the Euclid Avenue Theater, in Cleveland, in decoration."
The theater presented live performances on a stage 70 feet wide and 35 feet deep, large enough for full-scale productions of most of the popular plays and operas of the day. The seating capacity of the house on opening was 1,118 on three levels.
Around 1920, when an organ was installed, the Opera House was renovated and renamed the Liberty Theatre, presenting vaudeville and movies. A new Liberty Theatre opened a block south on Fifth Street in 1927, and the former Opera House/Liberty Theatre was operating as a movie theatre called the Imperial Theatre. At the time it closed, it was called the Variety Theatre.
The Variety Theatre was closed on October 14, 1952, and the venerable building was demolished to make way for a new J.C. Penney department store, which opened on the site in 1954. The last photos of the Variety Theatre showed the same Victorian facade the building had displayed for over 70 years.
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