I heard back from the wonderful people at Tuscarawas County Historical Society. Their responses helped my determine exactly where the Union Opera Theater was located, when it closed, and when it was demolished. (Refer: Donna in New Philadelphia, OH, at the Union Theater – 10 April 1920.) Thank you, Tuscarawas County Historical Society!
The Union Opera House was located “at [the] rear of Hotel Reeves Building” on Ashwood Lane. The city directory of 1921 indicates that the Hotel Reeves was at 133-135 North Broadway[i], behind the Tuscarawas County Courthouse.
In 1893, the Sharp Opera House burned and the city was without an entertainment venue until the Union Opera House company was organized and the theater built adjacent to the Sherman House (later the Reeves Hotel.)
The Union Opera House opened on December 9, 1897, with “Pudd’nhead Wilson” with Edwin Mayo in the leading role.
The Union Opera House had a capacity of 1,057 – 502 on the main floor, 230 in the balcony, 300 in the gallery, and 24 in box seats. The US Census indicates that the population of New Philadelphia, OH was 10,718, so the venue could hold nearly 10% of the population of the city. However, the city of Dover is adjacent to New Philadelphia and contributed another 8,000 to the population.
The opera house continued with a mix of live shows until 1925 when it changed over to movies only.
The Union Opera House closed on 26 May 1957. The final bill included Rock Hudson’s movie “Never Say Goodby” and Richard Widmark’s film, “Backlash.”[ii]
In July 1957, the Reeves Realty Co. announced that the Union Opera House would be razed for the installation of an outdoor parking lot for patrons of the Reeves Hotel.
Specifications for the Union Opera House:[iii]
- Proscenium opening: 32×22 ft
- Front to back wall: 42 ft
- Between side walls: 66 ft
- Apron 5 ft
- Between fly girders: 43 ft
- To rigging loft: 40 ft
- To fly gallery: 23 ft
- 11 Dressing rooms
According to the Julius Cahn Theatrical Guide, there were four newspapers associated New Philadelphia at the time; the “Times,” “Tribune,” the “Democrat,” and the “Reporter” (at Canal Dover). I have been unable to find copies of those papers. Find sources for the three papers and see if they have any articles regarding the show.
[i] Ancestry.Com – U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 – New Philadelphia, Ohio, City Directory, 1921, pages 136 and 219.
[ii] The Daily Times (New Philadelphia, OH); Friday, May 24, 1957, Page 1, “To Close Historic Union Opera House Here Sunday” via Newspapers.com.
[iii] The Julius Cahn – Gus Hill Theatrical Guide (1913-1914) – Page 525 – New Philadelphia.