The Herald Bulletin

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Community

November 30, 2013

Anderson was home to Doxey and Grand Opera House

Fires, arrival of silent films signal the end of era

ANDERSON — Costing $80,000, the Doxey Opera House, located at 41-47 North Meridian Street, was Anderson's first opera house. Built by Charles T. Doxey, it featured classic stage extravaganzas that traveled throughout country.

Little information exists about the physical appearance of the three-story Doxey Opera House. It was described as one of the finest, most complete, and best arranged opera houses between the Alleghany Mountains and the Mississippi River. It featured classic stage shows at reasonable prices in order that all could enjoy.

The Faye Templeton Opera Company was the first performance on opening night, June 15, 1883, and the last performance was "Mountain Pink," performed by Laura Dainty Nov. 14, 1884, which concluded at 11 p.m.

Two hours later a fire started in the haymow of Hurst's Livery Stable, which adjoined the theater on the south. Many rushed to the scene but were unable to stop the flames as there was not enough water. The iron shutters that adorned the windows warped and melted under the intense heat.

The fire soon spread to the gallery-balcony and into the attic. Shortly thereafter, the entire interior was a mass of flames.

Members of Dainty's troupe helped to remove the scenery, the fire drop-curtain, carpets and draperies and prop them outside against the nearby trees. The loss was estimated at $75,000 and was uninsured.

Undaunted, Charles Doxey erected on the same site a more handsome play house than its predecessor. It was described as being the only one of its kind in Indiana. Its elegance and convenience gave to Anderson a far-reaching advertisement that made every citizen feel proud.

Named the Doxey Theater and Music Hall, it was proudly described as a beautiful "Thespian Temple." Although Doxey's second building was not quite as elaborate as his first, it was one of central Indiana's finest opera houses when it opened the evening of Nov. 19, 1885.

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