Thorpe's Opera House

465 D Street,
David City, NE 68333

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Thorpe's Opera House

The Opera House was built in the style of most Midwestern opera houses of the day; a multi-story building, with business space available below the upstairs performing arts auditorium. When W. B. Thorpe opened his three story brick opera house on the south side of the court house square in 1889, the community boasted one of the most beautifully designed and best-equipped opera houses in Nebraska. The opening night audience sat on walnut stained hoop-backed chairs and faced double-tiered, velour-draped boxes on both sides of the main stage.

A U-shaped balcony extended from the boxes on each side leading back to a third floor multi-tiered gallery in the rear of the auditorium which increased the seating capacity to 1,000 patrons. The balcony seating was later removed.

Much of the theatrical entertainment, which appeared at the opera house both before and after the turn of the century, arrived in David City via one of the three railroads that served the town.

The Thorpe was used as a dance hall in the 1920’s, a sparring space for a local prize fighter, a basketball court in the 1930’s and 1940’s, a stage for school activities and plays and as a movie house and storage house in the 1950’s…and then sat empty.

The building was added to the NRHP in 1988 #88000941

Contributed by Chris1982

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on October 30, 2014 at 10:32 am

Thorpe’s Opera House is listed under David City in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. W.B. Thorpe was Mgr; 950 seats; admission 25 cents and 35 cents. The proscenium opening was 20 feet wide X 18 feet high, the stage was 30 feet deep. The theater was on the second floor, and had electric illumination. There were 6 members of the house orchestra. There were 3 railroads serving the town, but no mention of any hotels. The 1897 population of David City was 2,000.

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