The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


August 31, 2013

Opera houses grew amid cultural awakening


The beginning and ending of the opera house era in Pendleton is difficult to determine. The building that once served as the opera house survives today and is at 117 N. Pendleton Ave. The building is rectangular-shaped and originally measured roughly 25 feet in width and 100 feet in length. Today, it is the same width, but much longer. It retains little if any original components.

The original building can be found on a Sanborn - Perris Co. map dated October 1892. (Note: The Sanborn Maps, as they came to be called, were created to assist insurance agencies in assessing the fire risk of properties.) On the map the two-story wooden building is identified as a Repository, meaning it was being used for storage. Its address was 216 Tariff.

The property was owned by Dr. Ossian H. Cook, a Pendleton physician. He had acquired it sometime in the early to mid 1890s. At some point between 1895 and 1899, Dr. Ossian Cook sold the property to his older brother, Dr. John W. Cook, also a Pendleton physician.

An 1898 Sanborn map shows the same building identified as an opera house. The opera house portion was located on the first floor and was entered by a door centered on the east end facing the street. A notation on the map states the first floor contained a stage and scenery.

At the west end of the building was a single-story wooden addition which first appears on the 1898 map. It was approximately 25 feet square. It can be assumed it was added to store costumes, scenery, props, and to house dressing areas. Given this assumption, the stage would then naturally be located at the west end of the main building next to the addition thus providing easy access back and forth between the stage and the dressing/storage area.

A hall encompassed the second floor of the building. The hall was reached by an outside stairway located on the building's north side. Its use was not specified.

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