Medford Opera House sparks interest

I enjoy reading the "Mail Tribune 100" about what went on in Medford and surrounding towns, and what was where. Articles have referred to the Opera House in Medford. Do you have information about where it was located?

— Marilyn, Medford

Thanks for reading, Marilyn! We enjoy going through the century-old editions of the Muddy Tributary to learn about the movers, shakers and happenings of the day.

For some of us here on the Since You Asked musty archives detail, it's like a 100-year-old soap opera. We swear, we try not to read ahead.

Our friends at the Southern Oregon Historical Society helped us out with this one. They pointed us to a volunteer's website that has extensive research on past Medford buildings. According to that site, the Medford Opera House was located near the intersection of Eighth and Central.

The Medford Opera House, not to be confused with the Angle Opera House located where Vogel Plaza sits today, was built by J.R. Wilson. A grand opening ball was held July 22, 1902, and a larger building was opened in November of 1908.

According to past "Mail Tribune 100" pieces, the opera house was home to traveling plays such as "Spring Maid" and William A. Brady's "Overnight," political events such as speeches about single taxation, prohibition and women's suffrage.

As for its demolition, well, because you're an avid MT 100 reader, we have some bad news and a spoiler alert: in a couple weeks you're going to read about a fire.

The wooden building was engulfed in flames, and on Oct. 12, you'll be able to read all about how the manager of the opera house, Walter McCallum, believed the cause of the blaze was a "firebug." The loss was valued at approximately $5,000, and insurance covered $1,500.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.


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