Historic Photographs

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Virginia City

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Piper's Opera House, B & Union Streets, Virginia City, Storey County, NV



B&W Photos

HB853465

HB853466

HB853467

HB853468

HB853469

HB853470

HB853471

HB853472


Data Pages


Drawings


Supplemental Material


Item Title


Location
B & Union Streets, Virginia City, NV

Find maps of Virginia City, NV


Created/Published
Documentation compiled after 1933.

Notes
Survey number HABS NV-15-7
Unprocessed field note material exists for this structure (FN-7).
Building/structure dates: 1885 initial construction
National Register Number: 66000458
Significance: Piper's Opera House is one of the birthplaces of American stage in the west. The first large Virginia City theatre was Topliffe's on C Street, built in 1862. Tom Maguire's D Street Theatre followed the next year, and it was purchased by John Piper in 1868. Destroyed by fire in 1875, he rebuilt on B Street. This second theatre opened on January 8, 1878. The dress circle, parquet, and gallery seated 900. It, too, burned following a masked ball, on February 13, 1883. Opening in 1885, the third has muslin surfaced walls, once wallpapered, a spring supported floor, and a rake stage. Elizabethan strapwork designs decorate the proscenium arch, highlighted with George Piper's portrait of William Shakespeare. Two-tiered boxes flank the stage and a suspended balcony surrounds the parquet. Performers appearing at Piper's included Maude Adams, Lily Langtry, Edwin Booth, Henry Ward Beecher, Joseph Jefferson, Helen Modjeska, Enrico Caruso, Lillian Russell, E.H. Southern, Houdini, Marie Dressler, Mark Twain, May Robson, Fay Templeton, Lola Montez. David Belasco was stage manager in the early years of his career. Productions ranged from Shakespeare, with "Hamlet" most often presented, to ballet, minstrel shows, musicals and melodramas. Political and social meetings held in Piper's include raffles, lectures, political debates, and religious services. Other entertainment filling the hall in the 19th century were dances, bearfights, and wrestling matches. Between 1907 and its closing in 1929, movies, roller skating and basketball games were held in the theatre.

Subjects
Building Deterioration
Theatrical Productions
Sports


Related Names
Langtry, Lily
Booth, Edwin
Beecher, Henry Ward
Caruso, Enrico
Russel, Lillian
Houdini
McCreery, John T., Delineator
Mizell, Robert P., Delineator
Schafer, Jack W., Delineator
Hartwig, Robert L., Delineator
Kerrigan, Robert W., Photographer
McAfee, N. L., Photographer


Collection
Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)

Contents
Photograph caption(s): 
1. Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, San Francisco Taken 1939
2. Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, San Francisco Taken 1939
3. Historic American Buildings Survey Robert W. Kerrigan, Photographer March 1937
4. Historic American Buildings Survey N. L. McAfee, Photographer, National Park Service, June 1940
5. Historic American Buildings Survey N. L. McAfee, Photographer June 1940
6. Historic American Buildings Survey N. L. McAfee, Photographer June 1940
7. Historic American Buildings Survey N. L. McAfee, Photographer June 1940
8. Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, San Francisco


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