Oil City Opera House – 15 March 1920 – “Chin Chin”

Donna Montran and “Chin Chin” play at the Oil City Opera House in Oil City, Pennsylvania on 15 March 1920

We know that “Chin-Chin” played at the Franklin Opera House in Franklin, PA, on March 12th.  Certainly, the troupe played somewhere Saturday and Sunday, the 13th and 14th, but I have not discovered where—Yet.

Preshow Advertising appears to have begun on March 10th with a standard “Announcement to the Public” about the show coming. The same announcement ran on March 11th. There was also an “Amusements Ad” which spoke about Charles Dillingham and his previous successes and about some of the music in the show. That ad ran again on March 12th. There is no mention of Donna nor her role in the show.[i]

On the 12th ran a common “girls ad” for the show (See above.) and on the 13th a different advertisement ran. There was no Sunday paper for the News-Herald. The show may have sold out before Monday the 15th because there were no ads in the Monday paper.

I have not found any reviews or post-show information on this presentation.

Oil City Opera House

The Oil City Opera House is one of the few theaters that do not appear to have made the transition into film. It is not listed in any of the theater guides I have found. The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide for 1913-1914 reports that the Oil City Opera House seated 1,023 people – 389 on the lower floor, 302 in the Balcony, 300 in the Gallery, and 32 in the box seats. The stage was 32 ¼ x 24 feet.[ii]

The Julius Cahn guild mentions that there were two newspapers, in Oil City, first the Blizzard with a circulation of 3,000 and the “Derrick” with a circulation of 6,075. I have not found either of them available online. The newspaper articles and advertising I have found are from the “News-Herald” in Franklin, PA, which is about 8 miles away.

The Oil City Opera House was first built in 1872 at the head of Center street. It burned in February 1884. In the summer of 1885, several businessmen purchased the site and began construction of a new opera house. The site again burned during the 1890s.[iii] I’m not sure what would be considered “the head of Center Street.” But based on my guess, today it currently appears to be the site of an old (1940s?), abandoned bank building and a parking lot. 


[i] The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania) · Wed, Mar 10, 1920, · Page 10, via Newspapers.com.
[ii] The Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide for 1913-1914, Page 589.
[iii] Babcock, Charles A. 1919. Venango County, Pennsylvania: her pioneers and people. Volume I. Via Google Books – https://goo.gl/3Mx8na

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