Typically readers of Niagara Discoveries will suggests subjects for it. Lately I used to be requested to write down in regards to the historical past of opera homes in Niagara County. Data on 4 of them have been discovered. If anybody is aware of of others not included right here, please let me know.
In doing the analysis, I discovered that the time period “opera home” is a misnomer, because it was used to indicate an area used for theatrical or musical performances in addition to lectures and conferences. One newspaper author questioned the title of certainly one of these locations and requested if it “ever hosted an opera.” Few, if any, of those small neighborhood “Opera Homes” really staged an opera.
The primary of the opera homes to be mentioned right here is the one which prompted the suggestion from the reader. The Somerset Opera Home, nonetheless standing at Lake Highway close to Quaker Highway, was inbuilt 1885 by Dr. Irving Hotaling, a veteran of the Civil Conflict. It’s a one-story picket constructing. In accordance with a historical past of the constructing written in 1971 by then Somerset City Historian Ruth Porter, “It was geared up with movable seats, a good-sized platform and a balcony…The Literary Society of Somerset staged house expertise performs, and touring inventory firms staged dramas…The constructing was additionally used for dances, dinners, lectures and musical applications.”
Newspaper articles of the interval spotlight a number of the happenings on the Somerset Opera Home. On March 31, 1888, the Niagara Democrat reported on three occasions that had taken place or would happen there. The primary was a gathering of the “electors of the city” who had been against the granting of [liquor] licenses, to be held on April third “for the aim of nominating an excise commissioner and for the transaction of different such enterprise…” Subsequent it was reported that the “troupe” which had carried out the temperance drama “The Little Brown Jug” had been invited to the “spacious and stylish residence of Mr. and Mrs. J.J. Haight…the place they had been proper royally entertained by the genial host and hostess.”
Lastly, a farcical trial was staged: “The Nice Excessive Courtroom of Courts of the Mighty Province of Somerset or Turnover,” with “His Most August Judgeship” Loren Church presiding. It was a couple of case of rooster stealing, and the jury, “after listening to an extended chain of proof, returned a verdict of responsible.”
In 1903, one other comical leisure, “The Spinster’s Conference,” was offered by “The Single Blessedness Membership of West Somerset.” It was reported that “it has been enthusiastically obtained…We hope the ‘spinsters’ could have good success.”
The Somerset Opera Home was additionally the venue for the annual Memorial Day Service organized by the Barker Chapter of the G.A.R. (Grand Military of the Republic) till the Sons of Veterans Corridor was inbuilt Barker in 1908. After the opening of the brand new S.O.V. Corridor, the Somerset Opera Home was offered and over the past 100-plus years, it has been used for a number of totally different functions however principally for car and boat storage. The signal on the constructing identifies it as “The Previous Opera Home.” The Sons of Veterans Corridor, which had changed it, was torn down in 1971.
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A number of miles west alongside Lake Highway and a couple of half-mile south on Lake Road, within the village of Wilson, stood the Albright Opera Home. The construction began out because the Wesleyan Chapel subsequent to the Methodist Church. In 1893, William Albright purchased the constructing for his farm implement retailer. His two sons, Harold and John, created a small gymnasium, full with a boxing ring, at the back of the shop the place they and their buddies might compete with one another. A number of years after buying the constructing, Albright raised the roof and added a full second ground, however was cautious to maintain the decorative window from the previous chapel intact. It was this area that grew to become the Albright Opera Home.
In 1982, William’s son Harold wrote a brief recollection of his reminiscences of the opera home. He remembered that it was initially lit by kerosene lamps which had been later modified to electrical energy after the flip of the twentieth century. The opera home had wings on both facet of the stage, one for the piano and the opposite for the actors and for storage. A number of painted backdrops hung behind the stage; these included scenes of the assorted seasons, parlors and different rooms and a streetscape of Holley, N.Y.
Just like the Somerset Opera Home, Albright’s had performances by each native and touring theater teams. In a single play that used reside canines within the present, the canines ran off simply earlier than the primary act began and a frantic search was made to search out the canines earlier than their scene. Fortunately they had been discovered and the present went on as scheduled. “Medication exhibits” had been additionally carried out there. One time Harold Albright remembered seeing the “hucksters” filling the “medication” bottles with water from the neighbor’s effectively.
After about 25 years of working the opera home, William Albright closed it. By the Nineteen Twenties, touring troupes had been skipping the small city theaters in favor of larger venues and movement photos had been the brand new, novel type of leisure. Over the following dozen years, the constructing was used as a “Ford (automobile) Company” with a printing store upstairs. In accordance with Harold Albright, “a hearth of undetermined origin” destroyed the constructing “within the early thirties.” An actual date couldn’t be discovered.
The parking zone for the Wilson Home Restaurant now covers the location of the Albright Opera Home.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Due to Somerset City Historian Peter DeVeaux for help with the historical past of the Somerset Opera Home. Data on the Albright Opera Home is from the booklet written by Harold Albright.
NEXT WEEK: The Middleport and Lewiston opera homes.
Ann Marie Linnabery is the assistant director of the Historical past Middle of Niagara.
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