The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update


August 31, 2013

Opera houses grew amid cultural awakening


Cook's Opera House

By 1898, the street numbering system in Pendleton was undergoing a change. The former 216 Tariff address for the opera house was being converted to 18 N. Pendleton Ave.

Pendleton's population in 1898 was 2,300 people.

A 1900 street directory shows both brothers practiced medicine three doors north of the opera house at 26 N. Pendleton Avenue. Dr. Ossian Cook made the office his home while his brother John and wife, Sarah, lived next door at 30 N. Pendleton Ave.

The next Sanborn map available is dated 1908. The opera house designation is gone and the space is marked Wholesale Candy. A 1914 map indicates the building was vacant.

Thus it is difficult to determine exactly when the opera house was in use. A photograph dated ca. 1900 shows workman laying rails for the interurban that went thorough Pendleton. In the background on the side of the building can clearly be seen "Cook's Opera House" suggesting ownership by one or both brothers.

The Pendleton Gazette newspaper during the years 1900 and 1901, makes mention of a wide variety of events taking place at the opera house. These include receptions, speeches, band concerts, performances by local players, minstrel shows, an oyster supper, commencement exercises for the Fall Creek Township schools, a hypnotist, and the various traveling theater companies.

The only mention of the building's capacity was found in an article in the Nov. 2, 1900 issue of the Pendleton Gazette wherein it stated that Col. Durbin of Anderson addressed an audience of 400 at the opera house. The article went on to say the house was crowded and several hundred were unable to gain admittance to the hall. Winfield Durbin was campaigning for the office of governor of Indiana which he won.

A notice in the Pendleton Gazette for Friday, Feb. 2, 1900 may explain why Cook's Opera House apparently did not last long. It reads: "Peck's Bad Boy, as given at the opera house Wednesday evening, was a fine show, and the house should have been crowded. Worse shows are often seen at Indianapolis. Why do not Pendleton people patronize more liberally the high class shows which come here? If they did, the Band could insure them the worth of their money every time, but as it is, it is a hard matter to induce the best companies to stop here."

The next stop on our opera house tour will feature the Frankton and Alexandria opera houses and will appear in this column on Oct. 6.

For more information visit the Madison County History Center, 15 West 11th St., Anderson, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 9-4. Phone 683-0052.

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