Grand Opera House

Broad Street and Montgomery Avenue; Philadelphia

from Digital Collections:

Item: pdcc00091 / Grand Opera House, Philadelphia
Historic Street Address: Broad Street & Montgomery Avenue

Exterior view of the Grand Opera House which stood at the corner of Broad Street and Montgomery Avenue from 1888 to 1940.
Designed by George Plowman for the Betz Brewing Company, it was the fourth largest theater ever erected in Philadelphia.
The theatre was home to the National Grand Opera, founded by Gustave Hinrich. In 1912 the theatre was bought by the Nixon chain and renamed Nixon's Grand.
It featured big name vaudeville acts and showed feature movies until 1940, when it was partly demolished except for the facade.

Text from the book “Philadelphia Theaters” by Irvin R. Glazer:

The Grand Opera House-located at Broad and Montgomery, miles from the theatre district-opened in 1888 as the home of the National Opera Company,
initiating a brief phase of Philadelphia having two opera houses, which would last only until 1892.

Designed by George Plowman for the Betz Brewing Company, the Grand Opera House underwent numerous alterations, including those by Thomas Lamb in
1913 and Hoffman-Henon Co. in 1923. The large orchestra floor had 40 rows, allowing a capacity from 3,000 to 4,000. Later the Grand Opera House
became the Nixon Grand Theater and was one of two major vaudeville houses in the city.

The fourth largest theatre ever erected in Philadelphia, the Grand Opera House maintained its original facade, resembling that of a Betz brewery,
throughout its 53-year duration. Twenty-nine windows fronted the office-building section of the theater. The stage house was 60 feet deep and 150 feet
wide, and towered one and a half stories higher than the auditorium section. Interior photographs taken just before demolition show a Moorish design,
smothered in fringed and tassled draperies.

After several major fires, the building was demolished in 1940.

Programs available from this theatre:

  • The Black Hussar (1896)

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