Thursday, February 8, 2018

Corvallis Opera House

I apologize for the long lag from the last post to this one.  I've been helping Exhibition Curator Mark Tolonen prepare for the next exhibition in the Benton County Historical Museum's downstairs galley: Circa 1920—Roaring into the Modern Age.  There's also a new exhibition upstairs featuring the work of two woodworkers who share the same first name of Ted. I'll write about these soon.

Today I want to return to the subject of my last post- pianos.

I was intrigued to learn that, according to the museum's record, one of our other pianos, an 1878 Schomacker, was used at the Corvallis Opera House.
I hadn't heard of the Opera House before, although perhaps I should have as there is a large historical marker about it on the Benton County Bank at 4th and Madison.

Corvallis residents donated the money and labor to build this wooden structure in 1870.  Inside, 3 wood-burning stoves heated the horseshoe-shaped seating area filled with wooden chairs.


Local people used the building for a variety of functions:  dancing, city band performances, socials and a banquet celebrating the laying of the cornerstone for OSU's Benton Hall.  The Opera House contained a stage with a 25-foot by 14-foot proscenium opening with footlights in front. Traveling companies produced plays such as Rice's Evangeline (in 1886) and Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew (in 1910). Oregon State University also used the stage for some of its productions.

From 1915 to 1926, the building housed the Gazette Times.  After that, local business shared the space until the building was torn down in 1950.  The Benton County Bank built there in 1977.

By Martha Fraundorf, Volunteer for Benton County Historical Society, Philomath, Oregon


  1. So interesting! Thanks for showing us what was.

  2. You're welcome. Thank you for your interest!