Friday, April 24, 2009

Opera House

No, this isn't it.

Thomas Polson established a general store in Cedar Vale, Kansas known as the "Opera House Store". It was so named because it had a stage complete with a curtain which provided the center of entertainment for the community.  The stage occupied the entire second floor of the store.  The store sold hardware, groceries, textiles, farm supplies and clothing.  At various times, the store offered the Wichita Orchestra and the skilled direction of Miss Love (straight from Chicago to fit the ladies hats).

T. M. Polson came from Elgin to Cedar Vale fours years ago and has become one of the active businessmen of the city.  He owns the Big Caney Roller Mills, which have a capacity of fity barrels per day; also an elevator at the railroad yards.  He has recently completed the Opera House block, which is a fine two story building, the upper floor of which is the Opera House with a seating capacity of 700.  Mr. Polson has opened up a stock of general merchandise in the lower part of the block.  The Cedar Vale National Bank occupies half the frontage to a depth of sixty feet, the remainder being used by Mr. Polson.

This information comes from Pat Molder. She is related to the Polson family. This is an abridged version of her entries along with that from a souvenir booklet concerning Cedar Vale ("Dawn of the Twentieth Century"). Thank you, Pat ... for this very interesting account of the Opera House. 

8 comments:

Phil Foust said...

Some of you are quite familiar with the large bank building. What are your memories of businesses located there through the years?

DFCox said...

The edifice was impressive in a victorian sort of way. I remember lots of mosaic tile and marble inside. I missed the banking era there (too young), but I remember Owen Hubbard and later Stella, his wife, had an insurance office there. I did some business with them in the 50s. The building ran from Cedar St. along Monroe St. all the way to the alley. The rear portion, as mentioned in the blog, had several proprieters. I remember Burt Plumbing being there, as well as stairway access to the second floor.

Don Shaffer said...

Pat, how do I get a copy of "Dawn of the Twentieth Century?"

Your information about T. M. Polson was so interesting and intriguing! I would have paid the price of admission to have seen a "scene" in the Cedar Vale Opera House! To have sat 700, tells me that there was a "magic" in the air and that people said, "If you build it, we will come!"

Are there any programs from the Opera House Productions?

Don Shaffer said...

This seems a bit strange, Phil!

But, the memory of the "bank building on the corner," brings with it a memory, etched in my mind, of Owen Hubbard walking from his house "at the top of the hill, to the bank, where he worked, at the bottom of the hill! Of course, he had to walk to the top of the hill each day after work! There has to be a moral in that story somewhere! I can still see him. He had a kind of "lope" to his walk! Not fast, but covered a lot of ground! That "walk" taught me, "it's not how fast you walk, but how much ground you've covered!"

Phil Foust said...

When we lived across from you, Don ... one of my memories of a person's walk was that of Maurice Smith as he ventured to work each day. He walked with purpose and with a brisk gait. That gait was somewhat measured toward a whistling of probable happiness that seemed to penetrate (for me) the very mores of our fair city.

Pat Molder said...

Don - I have looked for a copy of the book "Dawn of the Twentieth Century" and haven't found one yet. I have emailed the Kansas Historical Society Library to see if they know of any copies. About a program from the Polson Opera House. I have a copy of one "THE POLMATIER SISTERS..LaSeba, E.Pauline and E. Phyllis (twins), Helen E. and Ina K. GRAND FESTIVAL OF MUSIC AND SONG. The most remarkable family of High-Class Musical Artists America has ever produced. These ladies are five of the famous Polmatier family orchestra, of Troy, New York (10 people) five boys and five girls.Introducing Orchestra numbers,Vocal and Instrumental solos, duets and trios; also beautiful musical activities, bells, etc. The best standard Overtures, Operas and Classic Selections are used during the evening's entertainment. Also College Glee Club Songs with mandalines,(sic) guitar and cello accompayment (sic) - second to none, BIG ATTRACTION of the SEASON. This Attraction has no Equal. POLSON'S OPERA HOUSE, TO-NIGHT !"....There isn't a price of admission, but I have a copy of another bill, a play by locals. "The Spinsters' Return".(April 11, 1905) Reserved seats were 35 cents; General Admission was 25 cents and Children were 15 cents. Annie Marsh, H. Seybold, Andy Early, Ollie Tabler, Kirk Dale were some of the players. Those names will be familiar to some.

Phil Foust said...

Just tremendous information, Pat .... thanks! Certainly, it would appear that CV was a bit more cultural in it's time than I would have surmised.

Krista Bulkeley said...

TM Polson was my 2nd Great Grandfather.
Krista Bulkeley