Grand Opera House

123 Main Street S.,
Vale, OR 97918

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The Grand Central Saloon was built in 1895 and is listed on Sanborn Maps 1911 as the Grand Opera House, located next to the 1908-built Drexel Hotel. The Opera House made it into The American Motion Picture Directory 1914-15.

In January 1910 a visiting doctor from Chicago had his say on the 300-seat opera house. He noted its complete lack of ventilation made it susceptible to all sorts of airborne diseases. Other faults were a flimsy curtain surrounding the moving picture machine, enabling the spread of fire and one narrow exit. Laying out a tragic scenario and referring to the Chicago Iroquois Theatre fire of 1903, the doctor is quoted as saying: “That happened in Chicago and can happen here”.

In November 1910 the Vale Malheur Enterprise criticized the Opera House moving picture show as being a fire trap. Held as a good example was the local Bungalow Theatre, which was fire proof in every way with its required exits and operating room lined with asbestos and tin.

The Opera House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 1, 1984.

Restoration of the Opera House and Drexel Hotel is currently being carried out by the Drexel H. Foundation.

Contributed by Ron Pierce
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