Opera Houses and Theaters of Terre Haute
Dates: 1879-1948
Accession Number: 971031B
Description: Twenty-four file folders in a document case

Histories of Opera Houses and Theaters of Terre Haute

The Terre Haute Opera House/Naylor's Opera House

On March 20, 1869, the Terre Haute Opera House Company was organized "for the purpose of erecting a business block in Terre Haute, a portion of which shall be used as a public hall." One hundred and fifty thousand dollars was invested in the project by the original stockholders comprised of local businesses and business men. Local architect J.A. Vrydagh was selected to design the building and James Hook won the bid as the chief contractor/builder.

The Terre Haute Opera House was built in 1870 at the northeast corner of Fourth and Main (now Wabash Avenue) Streets. C. E. Hosford served as house manager for the theater. It officially opened December 19, 1870 with a memorably late performance by John E. Owens. Owens was delayed by a road block due to a train wreck, and although his company arrived in Terre Haute several hours late, the audience had waited at the Opera House for him. He performed until 2 a.m. to a full house.

The Opera House hosted a variety of performers (local as well as national road companies), but the financial panic of 1873, which affected business and railroad interests across the nation, eventually affected the management of this Terre Haute theater. In October 1874, George P. Bissel & Company, the New York firm which held the mortgage to the Opera House, foreclosed on the stockholders of the Terre Haute Opera House Company.

The Opera House continued to operate after the foreclosure and was finally purchased from the New York firm in 1882 by Wilson Naylor. Naylor had moved to Terre Haute in 1864 and owned a grocery store on the corner of Fourth and Ohio streets. He was one of the original stockholders in the Terre Haute Opera House Company, and as the theater's new owner changed the name to Naylor's Opera House. He served as manager for nearly ten years, and then after his death, his estate continued to manage the opera house until it was destroyed by fire July 21, 1896.

For a detailed account of the early history of the Terre Haute Opera House, its architectural features and the various performances there, see Marlene Lambert's The Terre Haute Opera House from 1869 to 1874 (SpC G.C. 792.0977L).

Grand Opera House

After the Naylor Opera House was destroyed by fire on July 21, 1896, the city of Terre Haute was without a major theater. The directors and stockholders of the Terre Haute House Company initiated the building of a new opera house by organizing the finances for a new building. The design was by the Terre Haute architectural firm of Floyd and Stone, and construction on the new building began on May 1, 1897 under the direction of August Fromme, a local home contractor.

The Grand Opera House was located on the southeast corner of 7th and Cherry streets, adjacent to the Terre Haute House. Theodore W. Barhydt, Jr., a successful theater manager from Peoria, leased the new Terre Haute opera house and eventually formed the Barhydt Theater Company to oversee its management. As president of the company, Barhydt set up his office at 29 N. 7th Street, within the Grand Opera House building. His father, Theodore W. Barhydt, Sr., served as vice-president of the company; his wife, Henrietta Barhydt, was secretary; and Shannon P. Katzenbach was the treasurer. In addition to the Grand Opera House, T.W. Barhydt, Jr. went on to manage several theaters in Terre Haute, such as the Lyric and the Varieties.

On November 2, 1897, the Grand Opera House opened with the comic opera, "The Isle of Champagne," starring Katharine Germaine and Richard Golden; prices ranged from 50 cents to $1.50. Throughout its history, the theater hosted everything from full-scale operas to minstrel shows, religious speakers, and local residents performing in plays. The house had a seating capacity of approximately 1,300 people; prices were either set by the manager or by the visiting entertainers.

In the early 1930s, the Grand Opera House's name changed to the Grand Theatre. (This is not to be confused with the more recent Grand Theater located at 8th and Wabash.) During this time, the theater's focus shifted from live entertainment to a movie house.

In February 1959, the Terre Haute Hotel Company (owners of the Terre Haute House and the Grand Opera House Block) sold the property to the Hulman family. Representatives of the Hulmans announced plans for the Grand Opera House building to be demolished. On September 21, 1959, a farewell banquet was held in the theater to honor its impressive 62 year history. The Grand Opera House building was finally razed on August 5, 1960.

Coliseum Theatre

The Coliseum Theatre was located at 31-39 N. 8th Street, the southeast corner of North 8th and Cherry. It featured live stage performances and hosted some nationally renowned actors, such as Minnie Maddern Fiske. The Bronson Brothers served as managers for the theater which was in operation from circa 1905-1908, until it was destroyed by fire.

Wabash Theatre

The Wabash Theatre was originally known as the Hippodrome Theater which opened in 1915 as a vaudeville and stage auditorium. It was the home of the Terre Haute Community Theatre from 1931 to 1947, then remodelled as a movie house and renamed the Wabash Theatre. In 1956, it was purchased by the Scottish Rite, Valley of Terre Haute, and is still owned by them today (as of 1998). The building is located at 727 Ohio Street.


Content and Scope of the Collection

This collection was generated from miscellaneous material in Special Collections and Archives and primarily contains programs from various theaters in Terre Haute. Other items of note include the director's guidebook for the operetta "The National Flower" by Carrie B. Adams (Folder 4) and the Grand Opera House Route Sheet booklet which includes the manager's schedule of events for the season (Folder 21). [Carrie B. Adams was a local composer from the Department of Music, Indiana State Normal School and the organist and choir director for the First Congregational Church in Terre Haute.]

Also, since there is very little that remains from the Terre Haute Oratorio Society (see separate collection, accession number 790726), it should be noted that one of their programs is in Folder 1. The theaters represented in this collection are: Terre Haute Opera House/Naylor's Opera House, Grand Opera House, Coliseum Theatre and Wabash Theatre.

For related material, see Opera House Scrapbook (OV 107), Grand Opera House Programs (Accession #971031A), Photographs from Terre Haute Illustrated, 1889 (Accession #951025, Folder 3, Image 10), and Community Archives Photograph Collection (Photo #H56).

Document Case 1    
Terre Haute Opera House/Naylor Opera House
Folder 1   Handel's Messiah--Concert
of the Terre Haute
Oratorio Society
Feb. 14, 1879
  Program: T. H. Opera House "Sacred Concert in Aid of
the Sufferers of the Flood"
(includes the Ringgold Orchestra, an address by Colonel R. W. Thompson;
and a recitation by Alice Fisher)
Feb. 17, 1884
Folder 2 Program "Hamlet" Sept. 20, 1888
Folder 3 Program "The National Flower" Oct. 24-25, 1890
  Program: "The National Flower" May 8-9, 1891
Folder 4a Director's Guidebook The National Flower
by Carrie B. Adams
Folder 4B Program:
"The New Nabobs" Jan. 1, 1894

Grand Opera House






Folder 5


"The National Flower"

May 4-5, 1898







"Ushers Minstrels"

May 30, 1898





Folder 6

Souvenir program:

"Terpsichore's Carnival

May 17-20, 1899





Folder 7


"Mr. Pickwick"

Nov. 15, 1902


(photograph of opera house on cover)

"The Sultan of Sulu"


Nov. 17, 1902





"A Prince of Tatters"

March 23, 1903



"Captain Jinks of
the Horse Marines"

March 24, 1903





Folder 8


The Al G. Field
Greater Minstrels

Nov. 26, 1903







"Nancy Brown"

Jan. 1, 1904


Folder 9


"The Silver Slipper"

Feb. 9, 1904







"Hedda Gabler"

Feb. 10, 1904
Feb. 11, 1904







"Mam'selle Napoleon"
(presented by Florence
Ziegfield, Jr.)

Feb. 15, 1904



"The Spenders"

Feb. 16, 1904







"The Greatest Thing in the World"

March 10, 1904



"Winsome Winnie"

March 11, 1904





Folder 10


"The Harvester"

Jan. 23, 1905



"Pecks' Bad Boy"

Jan. 24, 1905



"Driven from the Altar"

Jan. 25, 1905



"His Majesty and the Maid"

Jan. 26, 1905



"The Evolution of the Watermelon"
(W.E. Nankeville's Consolidated Minstrels)

Jan. 28, 1905








"The Prince of Pilsen"

Jan. 30, 1905



"The Country Chairman"

Jan. 31, 1905





Folder 11


"The White Hen"

Oct. 5, 1907



"Isle of Spice"

Oct. 6, 1907







"The Spider's Web"

Oct. 15, 1907



"Father and the Boys"

Oct. 17, 1907



"The Burgomaster"

Oct. 20, 1907








Nov. 3, 1907



"The Shepherd King"

Nov. 4-6, 1907







"The Honor of the Family"

Jan. 13, 1908



"In Old Kentucky"

Jan. 14, 1908





Folder 12


"The Kreutzer Sonata"

Jan. 27, 1908



"Du Barry"

Jan. 28, 1908







"Simple Simon Simple"

March 1, 1908



"The Second Mrs. 

March 2, 1908







"Ben Hur"

March 26-28, 1908





Folder 13


"We Are King"

[April] 1908







"Royal Chef"

April 19, 1908



"Too Proud to Beg"

April 20-22, 1908







"A Texas Steer"

April 23-24, 1908





Folder 14 Program: "Abbe Bonaparte" Oct. 3, 1908
    "The Man from Home" Oct. 4-6, 1908
    "When Old New York was Dutch" Oct. 8, 1908
    "Paid in Full" Oct. 9-10, 1908
  Program: "A Stubborn Cinderella"
Nov. 29, 1908-
Dec. 1, 1908
    "School Days" Dec. 2, 1908
    "The Melting Pot" Dec. 3, 1908
    "The Road to Yesterday" Dec. 4-5, 1908
  Program: "A Bunch of Keys" Dec. 6, 1908
    "A Message from Mars" Dec. 7, 1908
    "East Lynne" Dec. 10, 1908
    "Brown of Harvard" Dec. 11-12, 1908
Folder 15 Program: "The Squaw Man" Jan. 9, 1909
    "The Night of the Play" Jan. 10, 1909
    "Way Down East" Jan. 11, 1909
    "Fifty Miles from Boston" Jan. 14, 1909
Folder 16 Program: Dr. Ludwig Wullner and Coenraad V. Bos Jan. 20, 1910
"The Music Master"
April 5, 1910
  Program fragment Ferruccio Busoni April 14, 1910
    "A Lucky Star" April 16, 1910
Folder 17 Program: John McCormack Nov. 26, 1912
    "The County Sheriff" Nov. 27, 1912
    Al G. Field Greater Minstrels Nov. 28, 1912
    "Madame X" Dec. 1, 1912
    "A Modern Eve" Dec. 3, 1912
  Program fragment: "The Bohemian Girl" Jan. 6, 1913
    "The Little Millionaire" Jan. 7, 1913
  Program "La Danse" with Adeline Genee Jan. 21, 1913
    "Hunting Dance" with Adeline Genee Jan. 21, 1913
  :Program: "A Girl of the Underworld" Jan. 25, 1913
    "Madame Sherry" Jan. 26, 1913
Folder 18 Program: "Making a Man of Him" Jan. 29-30, 1913
    "Peter Pan" Feb. 1, 1913
    "The House of a Thousand
Feb. 2, 1913
    Madame Emma Calva & Signor Galileo
Feb. 4, 1913
  Program: "Julius Caesar" Feb. 13, 1913
    "The Littlest Rebel" Feb. 16, 1913
    "Die Fuenf Frankfurter" Feb. 20, 1913
Folder 19 Program: Rudolph Ganz (pianist) & Jaroslav Kocian (violinist) March 25, 1913
    "The Quaker Girl" March 27, 1913
    "The Rose Maid" March 28, 1913
  Program: "Our Wives" April 11-12, 1913
    "The Fascinating Widow" April 13, 1913
    "The Quaker Girl" April 14, 1913
Folder 20 Playbill: "Victorious Ever is Youth" Sept. 17-18, 1915
    "School Days" Sept. 19, 1915
Folder 21 Grand Opera House Route Sheet Booklet (Manager's schedule of events  for 1920-1921 season)  
Folder 22 Program: The Russian Grand Opera Company n.d.
  Newspaper clipping regarding performance of Goldenstein at opera house in Terre Haute n.d.
  Complimentary ticket 1950
Coliseum Theatre  
Folder 23 Playbill: "Monna Vanna" Jan. 24, 1906
  Program: "The Tragedy of MacBeth April 27, 1906
  Playbill: "Before and After" n.d.
  Playbill: "The Prince Chap" n.d.
  Newspaper clipping regarding performance of Goldenstein at opera  house in Terre Haute n.d.
  Complimentary ticket to Grand Theatre 1950
Wabash Theatre Dec. 31, 1948
Folder 24

Tickets (4) to film: "Road House"
(special New Year's Eve
midnight show)
Dec. 31, 1948