The Washington Opera House Re-Opens
Old Postcard of the Washington Opera House
The Washington Opera House is the 5th oldest theater in the United States. It was built on the site of the "Old Blue Church", a Presbyterian church that was destroyed by fire in 1850. The Presbyterians relocated to Third Street and a theater was built on the Second Street location a year later. In its early days, the building served as a gathering place for school activities, patriotic rallies, and political debates.
So many buildings in those days, it seems, were prone to fire, for again in January 1898 the place went up in smoke. Later that same year, the theater was rebuilt at a cost of $24,000 (the present day renovations, by comparison, ran $2.9 million). The 1898 version exists mostly intact to this day. It was built by the Washington Fire Company, which is where the name Washington Opera House comes from.
Strangely for a location that was twice ravaged by fire, it also served as a base for the "Kinsey Mack" Fire Fighters (see postcard above).
The Washington Opera House remained a venue for the performing arts throughout its history, with a few slight changes in the early twentieth century adapting to the phenomenon of motion pictures. In 1908, the first motion picture shown in Maysville was shown here. Still, it remained largely a performance theater.
In 1962 the building came under the ownership of the thespian troupe, The Maysville Players, themselves one of the oldest acting groups in the Commonwealth. It was largely their motivating spirit that led to the renovations. As the immortal bard once wrote, "So shines a good deed in a weary world."
Learn more about the Maysville Players