Loomer Opera House

This view was taken in 1937 from Lincoln Square looking west down Main Street. Note how the Loomer Opera House on the north side dominates the streetscape. Also note the historic Hurley-Grant building on the left, foolishly demolished in 1976. Note all you out there that demolished the Chapman Block (aka Tsin Tsin Block).

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by the Chronicle logo

The Loomer Opera House:

by: Jay Farrell

Ok, so what has all this got to do with the Opera House? The huge room on the second floor front, probably the lobby during the heyday of the touring troupes, served as rehearsal hall and storage area for Mr. Wheeler's bands. Seemingly every available inch was packed with all sorts of theatrical stuff, scenery flats, old musical instruments, chests and boxes of who knows what. There was even a stuffed moose head hanging on one wall. Right out of central props... believe it! It was accessed by a wide staircase inside the main entrance on Main Street. You have to get the feel of this place, now closed for many years. Huge, to a youngster, rather dark and foreboding with minimal lighting, and dark wood paneling up the stairs. The "hall" was lit sufficiently for the musicians to attend to business, which they did with gusto. The list of musical numbers was logically dictated by the upcoming stage production with probably a piece or two from their standard repertoire, just to keep in shape. My favorite was Franz von Suppe's (learned years later that he was the composer) Light Cavalry Overture. I rode madly to the music, seated on, I don't know, maybe a pile of costumes or some stage props. Why I was there I can only surmise now. No doubt to rehearse with Billy and the unnamed papier-mache bovine. If you look at the picture of the building in the photo gallery you will note the large windows the building boasted. These would be open on the warm summer nights during practice sessions and my perch would usually be just inside one of them to the left of center. Most certainly there would be several music lovers lingering within earshot, enjoying the free concert.