138 N. Main Street,
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Victoria Theatre (Official)
Functions: Live Theater
Previous Names: Turner Opera House, Grand Opera House, Victoria Opera House, Victoria Theatre, Victory Theatre
News About This Theater
- Oct 16, 2009 — Complete Set of 500 vintage marquee letters Pre-1900????
If a theatre had nine lives, this theatre has spent them all. This theatre has caught fire, flooded and dodged the wrecking ball several times in her life.
In 1866 The Turner Opera House was built at E. 1st Street and N. Main Street in Dayton, Ohio. Three years later the opera house burnt to the ground except for the front facade. The theatre reopened on Novermber 28, 1871 as the Music Hall. The original front facade was used, but the auditorium was now on the ground floor and the building itself was about two floors shorter.
In 1885 the theatre name was changed to the Grand Opera House and in 1897, Daytonians got their first peek at motion pictures. On September 18, 1899 the theatre’s name was changed to the Victoria Opera House and then just the Victoria Theatre. The great flood of 1913 severely damaged the theatre, and again she came back only to be destroyed by fire again on January 15, 1918.
In 1919 the theatre was renamed the Victory Theatre in honor of America’s WW I victory. In 1925, Houdini performed at the theatre and was said to have used the theatre’s vents for his great escape. Up until this point the theatre had always had live theatre, but in the 1930’s theatre was taking a back stage to motion pictures.
The theatre continued to show film and ocasional theatre until the 1970’s when the theater was going to be torn down for a parking lot. A grass root effort was started to save the Victory and eventually enough money was raised. A non-profit organization called the Victory Theatre Association was established to operate the theater and in 1989 the theatre underwent a 17.5 million restoration and reopened as the Victoria Theatre.
Today this beautiful theatre is alive with dance, theatre, Broadway style plays and summer movie series. She will be enjoyed for many more generations to come.
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Recent comments (view all 19 comments)
As the Grand Opera House, this theatre is listed in the 1897-98 edition of the Julius Cahn Official Theatrical Guide. GA & WC Dickson were the managers, and the seating capacity is given as 2000. Ticket prices ranged from 25 cents to $1. The theatre was on the ground floor and had both gas and electric illumination. The proscenium opening was 37 feet wide X 35 feet high, and the stage was 38 feet deep. There was also a Park Theatre in Dayton, also managed by the Dicksons, and also having about 2000 seats. The 1897 population of Dayton was 95,000.
After the Victory lost the exclusive run of Disney movies, the theatre was closed. I believe the name of the young man who reopened the theatre was Jim Burt, who marketed the theatre for young adults and the years I believe was 1971 to around 1974. Double feature midnight shows ran including rock concert films like WOODSTOCK, FILLMORE and during this time Jane Fonda made a personal appearance on stage. Around 1972, Jim rented the Loews theatre across the street for concerts.
Here is the website for this theater.
The historic photos from the Dayton library that were linked in earlier comments have all been moved to new URLs.
Here is the original Turner’s Opera House of 1864.
Here is the photo of the ruins of the Opera House after the 1869 fire.
Here is the pre-1918 fire photo of the Music Hall.
Here is the Victory Theatre after it was rebuilt in 1919.
The Victory Theatre was the exclusive run for all Disney movies for about 20 years until MidStates began the squeeze for multi runs and eventually cleared the Victory from the any Disney first run.
The Victoria Theatre people are gathering memories about the Victory/Victoria Theatre for their 150th year anniversary celebration. I have already contributed my memories from the Save the Victory days. The link to their memory-gathering web site is: https://www.victoriatheatre.com/venues/victoria-theatre/memories/
Hi everyone! I was the “janitor” here in ‘72-'73 when it was the Victoria Opera House, run by John Skilken and James Burt. Cleaned the entire place every day by myself . Had a key to the side door on 1st St. Would stand on stage in a darkened, silent space and commune with the spirits of past performers. Would climb the backstage ladder to the rooftop for the view. Watched Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden speeches. Leo Kottke , Jean-Luc Ponty, rock acts and even Grand Ol'Opry performers. “Harold and Maude”, “Reefer Madness”, “Fantasia” and other films would run for it seems like weeks at a time, and come back. The young boomers kept the place filled at times, one of the few reliable congregating spots in town at the time. A friend reupholstered the seats just before it closed in the 70’s. It’s one those miracles we all should be thankful for, that it’s more beautiful and vibrant than ever. It will always have a place in my heart.
In 1972, I would go to the Victoria and see my union friend Charlie McCartney and hang out during the Friday and Saturday Midnight Shows. I was a non-union projectionist for the McCook Theatre. After a couple of weeks Charlie would leave the projection booth and left it to me to run the booth. Loved it. I felt blessed being a part of this historic theatre.
According to the February 2, 1918, issue of The Dramatic Mirror the Victoria Theatre at Dayton had been destroyed by a fire on January 15. Other sources give the date of the event as January 16.
September 18th, 1899 grand opening ad as Victoria in the photo section.