City once home to Opera House


Benny Shoults, volunteer for the Delaware County Historical Society, will take guests back over 140 years to when downtown Delaware was home to the City Opera House in a new program titled, “That’s Entertainment.”

The event will be the Delaware County Historical Society’s first live program of the year, and it will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18, at the Barn at Stratford, 2690 Stratford Road, Delaware.

The program will cover a time from 1879 to 1934 and will revolve around the once grand City Opera House in downtown Delaware, as well as other Delaware entertainment venues during “The Golden Era of Entertainment” in which the entertainment possibilities were quite progressive and numerous. This time in Delaware’s history and the history of the United States, the momentum of progress was going full steam ahead, and many inventions and industries were filling the daily news.

During this time in history, more and more citizens had something called “leisure time,” which led to an expanding entertainment industry, a time when classical forms of entertainment met the newest technologies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

A 1,050-seat auditorium known as the City Opera House graced the second floor of the old City Hall building. It was the city’s social center for graduations and theatrical productions. Here, also, John Philip Sousa led his band in “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Other celebrities who appeared here included Mark Twain, William McKinley, temperance advocate Carrie Nation, statesman William Jennings Bryan, Hollywood director Vincente Minnelli, Ben Hur author General Lew Wallace, and abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher.

Admission to the program is free, but donations are appreciated. Facial coverings are encouraged. Please register on Eventbright at For more information, call 740-369-3831.

The Delaware County Historical Society is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote, preserve and sustain interest in the history of Delaware County. The Barn at Stratford is operated by the Delaware County Historical Society as an event venue for weddings, corporate meetings, and other special occasions. To learn more, visit the venue and society websites at and

Pictured is the old Delaware City Hall. The building’s second floor contained the 1,050-seat City Opera House. is the old Delaware City Hall. The building’s second floor contained the 1,050-seat City Opera House. Courtesy | DCHS
Fire destroyedbuilding in 1934

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