Stanford Opera House

105 E. Main Street,
Stanford, KY 40484

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Additional Info

Previous Names: Opera House

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The Stanford Opera House opened in December 20, 1879. It was the first theatre in Stanford to run motion pictures beginning in 1911.

The Stanford Opera House was first operated by J.W. Rochester and C. Hays Foster, which would later be purchased by Marshall Stone who had the opportunity to start up motion pictures in Stanford. It was a vaudeville, motion picture, and live performance house all in one. There were three theatres in Stanford which were the Southland Theatre, the Stanford Opera House, and the “newly-made” Lincoln Theatre.

The Opera House closed in 1933, but three years afterward in August 1936, new management took over the Opera House and tried its attempt on reopening. However, the rest of its history remains lost.

Contributed by 50sSNIPES

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 10, 2022 at 2:05 am

There might have been two different opera houses at Stanford. The 1883 edition of Jno. B. Jeffrey’s guide listed the Stanford Opera House as a 600-seat theater with a stage 20 by 50 feet. The 1889 edition of the same publication listed Walton’s Opera House, a 500-seat theater with a stage 25 by 60 feet. It might also be that the house was rebuilt, or perhaps misinformation originally published was corrected in later editions.

The 1880 edition of The New York Clipper Almanac said that on December 20, 1979 “[t]he Stanford (Ky.) Opera-house was dedicated by Julia A. Hunt and company, who then began a week’s engagement, playing ‘The Pearl of Savoy’”.

I came across this vintage postcard photo of Walton’s Opera House, probably made in the 1890s. The building next door is still standing in the 100 block of E. Main Street, but the Opera House building has been replaced by something newer, though still not very new.

One source said that the Opera House building also housed the town’s post office and a restaurant. The restaurant was probably in the storefront in the middle that says “The Princess” on its sign. The new building on the site uses the address 101 E. Main Street, but the Opera House entrance was the third door down from the corner, so probably at something like 105 E. Main.

The November 18, 1916 issue of Moving Picture World said that an exhibitor named F. A. Ogden from Winchester, Kentucky, planned to operate the Opera House as a movie theater after negotiating a deal with building owner Hays Foster.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 10, 2022 at 8:43 am

Typo in my previous comment. The 1880 Clipper almanac, recording theatrical events of the previous year, said that the Stanford Opera House opened on December 20, 1879, not 1979.

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