Landmarks of Monroe County  


The Paris Opera House

The New Opera House

A Full Description of the Building

Who Built It

Why It Was Built, Etc.

 Source: Paris Mercury, 1888

Many of our readers who remember the old yellow house that stood on the corner of Main and Caldwell streets—the first business house in Paris of any note, and long used as a dwelling—would be surprised to see the magnificent building now standing upon that site. The structure is 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, three stories high, each corner surmounted with a mansard roof tower, with dormer window and circular light, the top of the tower ornamented with iron cresting. The twin windows, large and massive, give the building an imposing appearance. The entrance to the theatre is on Caldwell street, under a large arch and through heavy oiled hard pine doors, up a polished stairway, through double doors, by which you enter the auditorium or theatre proper. The floor slopes toward a 27 foot stage. Up above is the gallery, 24 X 48, finished in the latest style of the art, and from any seat in which can be had a full view of the stage. This is a modern achievement in architecture, and is quite a blessing to the audience. The roof is self-supporting, and therefore there are no posts to look through. The auditorium is 48 X 68, with a 24 foot ceiling. From the center of the ceiling hangs a lovely chandelier all sparkling with gas lights, reflecting the gilt and beauty of the paper and frescoing above, while all around gleam lights of varied hue, giving the theatre a bright and happy appearance. The two lower rooms are 22 X 80, elegantly lighted with plate glass fronts and side windows, with cellars underneath rear ends. They are splendid business rooms. The entire building is lit with gas, the machine being made by the Gas Light Co. of Kansas City. The brick work was done by Mr. Sandison of Moberly. Wires & True, the main contractors, did the carpentering, while the stone work was done by Mr. Dorman of Moberly: the painting by F. M. Tritch of Moberly, and the plastering, 2,600 yards, by C. A. Heath, of this city.

The theatre will probably be dedicated on Oct. 22nd by a gilt-edged troupe, and while you sit under the gas light, (waiting for the audience to be seated), in a beautiful opera chair---mahogany finish, folding seat, hat and cloak rack, etc.,---you can cast your eye at the lovely papering and frescoing overhead and on the walls. No doubt you will find this and looking at the bewitching drop curtain a happy pastime of a few moments. You will observe that the interior finish is a combination of fresco, paper, and antique meteoric decoration in high relief. Above the windows is a small band of Pompeian red, with edging of Japanese. Above this is an inlay of modern renaissance, then a freize of light Pompeian red, design Florentine, finished with diamond edging, then the cove, three feet wide, in light blue, pink and yellow, shaded with iredesen, design Moorish and Arabian, frescoed with plants and vines, finished also with diamond edging. On ceiling is a blue border style Florentine, finished with edging of red and gold, style French. Next a wide inlay of olive-gray, frescoed, style conventional flowers. Inside of this is a band—gold, copper and light green bronze; style modern English. Six panels, style French renaissance. Large center, style Egyptian and Florentine, conventional flowers, and diamond edging of blue. Main ceiling, color, Venetian pink. Balcony ceiling, wide decoration in yellow, olive and brown colors, style Celtic. Inside of this is gold ground, hand-made border, design floral, with an inlay of Naples yellow, edged with small band of yellow, red and olive, style Moresque. Front of balcony, colors olive gray, indented decoration, metallic finish of copper bronze. Side walls of antique meteoric decoration in high relief, ground work style radialta, color light Arabian brown, with Japanese design in gold and copper bronze, with jeweled centers. Dado same, but darker colors, divided with mouldings of silver-steel and antique bronze. Arch over stage, antique meteoric decoration in high relief, design Egyptian fan, metal shading. The work was done by W. H. Duffield, of Kansas City, Mo., and reflects credit upon that gentleman’s taste and ability as an artist.

You may ask why was so stupendous a building erected in Paris. We only say that this is a wealthy, refined and cultured people, and being deprived so long of a place  of public meeting, they resolved to build a house for their pleasure, one in which they and their children could sit in comfort under the influence of good  and legitimate drama and listen to the voice of the better class of lecturers and speakers. This desire grew so strong in the hearts of the people that one night, with one accord, they met in the court house and resolved to build a house. This house today is a fulfillment of that resolve. Fifty-six business men and capitalists took stock, the shares valued at $50 each, and soon $10,000 was raised and the work began. As the temple at Jerusalem glistened in the sunlight, so does the new opera house at Paris glow in the hearts of the people. It is theirs---not for profit, but for pleasure. All the stock has been subscribed, and a light assessment, if necessary, will pay the balance, the total amount required to complete the building being $12,500. During the opening series, which will begin Oct. 22, it is expected that the house will be crowded to its utmost capacity—one thousand—and therefore it will behove all to order seats or secure them as soon as placed on sale. Many people from abroad—men and women whose childhood voices were echoed by these hills and whose faces have been time and again reflected in the placid depths of old Salt river, whose limpid waters sweep the northern circuit of the town—will come here on this grand occasion and once again mingle their voices together, shake each other by the hand, and renew old friendships. Let all come. 

 Graphics courtesy of Rhiossampler