Grand Opera House

Central Square,
Youngstown, OH 44502

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Grand Opera House

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Located on the Southwest corner of Central Square. The Grand Opera House was Youngstowns' first true theater opened in 1872. Between 1872 and 1907 it served as a live theater, but in 1907, in partnership with partners, Sam Warner added movies to the bill. Until it closed in around May 1918, it vied with the Park Theatre.

In its lifetime a number of local men who would go on to become involved with Warner Brothers got their start at the Grand Opera House.

The Grand Opera House was built by P. Ross Berry. It was demolished in the 1920’s.

Contributed by wolfgirl500

Recent comments (view all 32 comments)

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on November 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Received the following e-mail from the Mahoning Valley Historical Society regarding the Grand Opera House:

Thank you for your query concerning the Grand Opera House here in Youngstown.

The Opera House was organized in July 1872 and the grand opening was held 20-27 February 1874. We have an original program card from the February 23rd performance of “Richelieu.” P. Ross Berry is credited with being the masonry contractor. Vindicator articles include: February 20, 1874 page 5 col. 2; Feb. 27, 1874 page 5 col. 3.

There is a description of the original layout in the History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties published by H. Z. Williams, 1882, Volume 1 page 378 supposedly written by John Edwards.

The Heller Brothers handled renovations. There are a number of articles regarding the renovations: July 25, 1897 page 2; August 29, 1897 page 2 and Oct. 10, 1897 page 8 all in the Vindicator. The layout of the Opera House after renovations was published in the 1897 Youngstown City Directory.

There were performances up into 1918 but I could not find a “last performance” date. Likewise I could not find a definite demolition date, although it was sometime between 1918-1924. Mahoning National Bank built their new building in 1924 and First Baptist Church held their cornerstone laying in March 1925 so the Opera House was gone by then.

There was mention of an article in April 29, 1928 Vindicator about Chubb Sullivan and Josephine Gassman claiming original flooring and partitions from the stage, dressing rooms and boxes to be incorporated into a new home they were having constructed. (we don’t have the clipping, just a typed transcript of part of the article).

We do have descriptions of the painted curtain in use at the Opera House and many clippings for acts which appeared there.

Sincerely, Pamela L. Speis Archivist Mahoning Valley Historical Society 648 Wick Avenue Youngstown, OH 44502 telephone: 330-743-2589 e-mail: Web: www.mahoninghistory.org

NOTE: Heller Brothers was responsible for building many of Youngstown’s theaters.

As to the firm that drafted the prints, I still haven’t been able to find out anything.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on November 1, 2011 at 10:40 pm

In 1897 according to the Vindicator the interior was gutted and completely remodeled by Heller Brothers:

“Every inch of the old interior will be torn out , and the new theater will be fitted up in the most approved manner. The plans contemplate a larger seating capacity on the first floor and also in the first balcony. Toilet and reception rooms for the ladies and toilet and smoking compartments for gentlemen will be features that patrons will surely appreciate. The stage will be better arranged, new open boxes will be added, a complete set of new scenery and stage equipments will be secured …”

Vindicator July 25, 1897 page 2.

The most complete description of the Grand Opera House after the remodeling: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=YA1IAAAAIBAJ&sjid=34AMAAAAIBAJ&pg=1400%2C2212403 from the Vindicator for August 29, 1897.

October 10, 1897 Vindicator at page 8 another complete description complete with seating chart: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=Zg1IAAAAIBAJ&sjid=34AMAAAAIBAJ&pg=6679%2C3178620 for the first floor.

My next project is to find out when it added movies.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on November 1, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Mr. Oberleitner could you possably have more information on th Bijou that the Warners were connected with here in Youngstown. I do have an exterior picture of it but need more information, and perhaps you could add it to the theaters here in Youngstown. It would be greatly appreciated, and I thank you.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on February 12, 2015 at 7:14 am

Of all the theaters in Youngstown, the Grand Opera House was the only one that depended solely on newspaper ads to tell what was showing.

milanp
milanp on March 12, 2015 at 3:57 pm

The Esquire was still operating as an arthouse (!) in the spring of 1950. Not sure how much longer it stayed in business, though.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 12, 2015 at 5:11 pm

By May 14, 1950 the Esquire was ordered closed and the building was condemned as a fire hazard. There is a photo of the demolition in the photo page of the Esquire Theater.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 12, 2015 at 6:46 pm

milanp, to be exact, the Esquire was demolished March 29, 1954 — ref: Youngstown Vindicator, March 29, 1954 pg. 6, col. 1.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 12, 2015 at 6:48 pm

Now that we’ve gone full circle about the Princess/Grand/Esquire, can we please get back to discussing the Grand Opera House?

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 16, 2015 at 9:07 pm

I was just informed that the information that the Library previously sent me was incomplete and that the Grand Opera House was in fact demolished and its space was taken up as part of the First Baptist Temple which later was incorporated into the Huntington Bank Building. Sorry for any confusion.

wolfgirl500
wolfgirl500 on March 16, 2015 at 10:05 pm

In September, 1918, George Oles turned the Grand Opera House into one of his grocery stores vowing in a newspaper ad that he would be there for 40 years, but true to form, the theater turned grocery store was torn down, and the First Baptist Temple would build an additionto their church in the 1920’s.

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