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Graphics by Rhio

 

The Grand Opera House, 1906
Tulsa, OK

Photo courtesy of The Beryl Ford Collection

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"The apex of [Tulsa's] popular entertainment was the Grand Opera House which George E. Johnson built. He opened it on February 1, 1906 and did not close it for almost thirty-five years. "The Chaperon" played the first night, and throughout the decades the establishment billed such nationally renowned performers as "the famous funny fellows, Wook and Wand," in the "jolly jungling musical fare", "Two Merry Tramps." Serving a dual capacity as playhouse and public meeting center, the hall constantly echoed with music, speeches, and frivolity. People came to view vaudeville shows and to discuss public controversies. The establishment even withstood competition from the Theatorium, which opened the year after Glenn Pool and featured "Edison's moving pictures." [City in the Osage Hills Tulsa, Oklahoma; Courtney Ann and Glen Vaughn-Roberson; Pruett Publishing Co, Boulder, Co; (c) 1984. Pg 92]

"Reviewing the famous names who have appeared since Tulsa's first Opera House on Second Street opened on February 1, 1906, reveals the spirit of those who built Tulsa and their desire to make their city something more that just another cow town or oil patch boom town. It's like tracking the cultural footprints of early Tulsans - for the names of the great and near-great playing Tulsa show the kinds of entertainment early Tulsans enjoyed - or at least thought they should enjoy. ... It was, to early Tulsans, culture. And it was, to Tulsa's pioneers, culture with a capital "C". .... quality of life according to the "civilized American way" had not [yet] developed. As a result, capital "C" culture had to be imported. ... ... the result was an early day Tulsa which found entertainment and the necessary dose of culture by bring various classical events and artists to the Tulsa stage. Tulsa did not set its sights low. As early as 1911, not that long after the Glen Pool brought oil to Tulsa in a big way, the City's finest heard the New York Symphony .." (Page 150: The Tulsa Spirit: a pictorial and entertaining commentary on the growth and development of Tulsa, Oklahoma; (c) Published in 1979 by Continental Heritage Press, Inc. P.O. Box 1620, Tulsa, OK 74101 [no longer in business in Tulsa])

 

Tulsa's Grand Opera House on the north side of 2nd street between Boston Avenue and Cincinnati Avenue, 1906.

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Linda Haas Davenport