The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


November 30, 2013

Anderson was home to Doxey and Grand Opera House

Fires, arrival of silent films signal the end of era


The building was an enormous one for the 1880s in Anderson. Measuring 125 feet wide by 225 feet deep, the three-story building contained a gallery on the third floor that overlooked the second floor balcony. The main floor measured 125 by 150 feet, including the stage. Located on the stage were barrels of water positioned at the rear corners in case of fire.

Eight years later, on March 30, 1893, fire struck again. It was believed a gas jet which was left burning near some of the draperies caught them on fire and in turn the scenery and stage appliances, and then spread quickly, leaping from the upper windows and roof in a short time.

The Anderson Fire Department responded with the hose wagon and ladder trucks within a minute of receiving the alarm. Sadly, the firemen were unable to do much good as the pumps at the water works were unable to provide enough pressure to be effective. Nevertheless, after two and a half hours the blaze was brought under control.

With the loss, Mr. Doxey gave up on his dream of an opera house for the city.

The front part of the theater was not badly damaged and was salvaged. The former Doxey Theater and Music Hall eventually became the home of the Banner Store in 1895.

In December 1894, former Anderson Mayor John H. Terhune gave the city a Christmas present in the form of news about a new opera house to be constructed at the northeast corner of 11th and Main streets.

The opera house was to be part of a larger building on that corner called the Opera Block. Business fronts would occupy the Main Street frontage while the entrance to the opera house was on 11th Street. The portion of the building housing the opera house was roughly 100 by 200 feet.

The three-story building contained two balconies, one above the other, and seated 1,400 people. Two double-door arched entries covered by an elaborate marquee welcomed patrons to the Grand Opera House on opening night Oct. 22, 1895.

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