Sunday, December 6, 2009

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Leadville 1879 - Part 2

... Well, I promised more about the opening of the Grand Central variety theatre in Leadville in my last post, so here it is. These bits and pieces are taken from a follow-up article that appeared a while later, and provide a more detailed description of the place as a whole:

The Largest and Most Magnificent Variety
Theatre in the United States.
A Temple of Wine, Women and Song
....The building is of brick and lumber combined, well keyed and stayed with iron rods, and is pronounced by the architects of the city as the most substantial structure in the place. It has a frontage of seventy-three feet on State street, is one hundred and thirty-five feet front to rear, forty-six feet from floor to roof, and three stories high—being very much the largest building in the city. The total cost is $38,000. Half of the lower floor is devoted to orchestra chairs, and the remainder furnished with raised seats, thus giving a full view of the stage from every part of the house.... The seating capacity of the boxes, gallery and auditorium is two thousand five hundred. ...Three saloons and bars—two upstairs and one on the first floor—with polite and attentive barkeepers, and PRETTY WAITING MAIDS by the score, supply the wants of guests, whether the order be for the finest wines, or the more practical drinks of the West. Down stairs, running parallel with the theatre room, but entirely separate, is a club room, or sportsman hall, 20 feet wide by 100 feet in length, where the devotees of the green cloth may find the chances combined in all games known to the sporting fraternity....
Sounds like quite the place, perfect for extracting coin from the pockets of any who are looking for entertainment of one type or another. My protagonist, Inez Stannert, might well look upon the three saloons and bars and the "club room" with some envy (even while she would no doubt eschew the pretty waiter maids).


Kathleen Ernst said...

Don't you love these old articles? What a great source--paints a real visual picture.

Ann Parker said...

Hi Kathleen!
I agree... there are real gems buried in the tiny tiny type and narrow columns! :-) I'm glad I write historical fiction in a timeframe that includes newspapers. They're such a great resource!