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History of Freeland, Pa.
Opera houses

This page contains information from several sources: Charles Stumpf's notes, Katherine and Charles Miller's research in the Freeland Tribune, images from Bernard Yannes and Charlie Gallagher.  There may be some confusion between the Yannes and Grand Opera Houses, as John Yannes was involved with both of them, and much of the contemporary documentation doesn't contain addresses. The earlier city directories put the Freeland Opera House at Front and Washington, while at least one later one puts it at Ridge and Luzerne. As I learn more, I'll post it here. If you know more, please email me!

1895 Sanborn
                map detail Yannes Opera House dance card 1901 Yannes Opera House dance card 1901 Yannes Opera House - Formerly known as Krell's Hall, the Yannes Opera House (also known as the Freeland Opera House) was acquired and renamed by Austrian immigrant John Yannes in 1890. He featured both local entertainment and touring shows. After Yannes' death in 1915 the Opera House was leased to St. Ann's Church for the use of the Young Men's TAB Society and was operated as a source of revenue for the parish. Moving pictures were now being shown there. In 1938 the building became an A&P store, which operated until destroyed by fire in 1974. The site is now occupied by the Convenience Mart at Front and Washington. The postcard shown at the upper left corner of this page shows Krell Hall in the front left area of the photo. At left here is a detail from the 1895 Sanborn map showing the location. The 1901 dance card at right comes to us from Bernard Yannes.

Grand Opera House and schoolhouse, 1941 1900 Sanborn
                map detail Grand Opera House - John Yannes built a second opera house on the corner of Ridge and Luzerne, called variously the Freeland Grand Opera House, the Freeland Opera House and the Grand Opera House. It opened for business in 1896. Entertainment there included concerts by regional artists, Vaudeville and touring shows, occasional sporting events and even school commencements. The building was later converted into a factory and is now a senior citizens' apartment building. At right is a detail from the 1900 Sanborn map showing the Grand Opera House catercorner from the original St. John's Nepomucene Church at Ridge and Luzerne streets. At left is a cropped detail from a photo from Charlie Gallagher. That is a cow's rump in the foreground, but across the field we see the schoolhouse that now belongs to Mr. Belekanich and the building that was built as the Grand Opera House, later becoming a factory and then a seniors apartment complex.

Charlie Gallagher also contributed this small envelope containing several complimentary tickets for performances at the Grand Opera House, and the clipping next to them about the Grand Opera House in 1909-1910. The tickets would be filled out by hand and then turned in for a seat at a performance. The envelope itself was printed with the name of the business which distributed the tickets, which in this case was McMenamin's Gents' Furnishings, Hat and Shoe Store. Wonderful that these little paper items have survived all these years. The clipping of Grand Opera House information comes from Julius Cahn's Official Theatrical Guide for 1909-1910. Note that J. J. M. Menamin (should be McMenamin) was the manager and business manager, D. S. Buckley was the press agent, and Charlie's grandfather Bernard Gallagher was the electrician. Also, Meehan is the prop. man, P. Welsh is the stage carpenter, and Salvador De Pieno (should be De Pierro) is the orchestra leader. A lot of physical detail is given about the interior of the opera house, and 3 hotels and 3 newspapers are mentioned. The population of Freeland is cited as being 8,189. (!)

                Opera House ticket envelope Grand Opera House ticket envelope Bernard
                Gallagher's job at the Grand Opera House Grand Opera House complimentary ticket

Sample lists of events at the opera houses, from Katherine and Charles Miller

The May 21, 1900 edition of the Freeland Tribune provided a rundown of the 1899-1900 season's entertainment at the Grand. Because Freeland was at the end of the rail lines, the revenue had to be guaranteed in order to get high quality performances. The 67 performances at the Grand included:

  • Daniel Sully and company presented "The Parish Priest", and "O'Brien, the Conductor"
  • Field and Hanson's Minstrels, Diamond Brother's Minstrels and the Vogel & Deming's Minstrels
  • "Finnegan's Ball", "Old Si Stebbins", "The Merrymakers", "The Span of Life"
  • Morrison's "Faust"; "Si Plunkard", "Hearts of the Blue Ridge"
  • Leyburne Bon-Ton Company's repertoire theatre for six nights
  • "The Stowaway", "Maloney's Irish Visitors", "The Hustler", "The Prodigal Father"
  • Jeffries-Starkey fight pictures "The Passion Play" pictures
  • Agnes Wallace Villa in "The World Against Her"
  • Mitchell's All-Stars played for six nights
  • Barney Gilmore in "Kidnapped in New York" ; Amy Lee in "A Determined Woman"
  • Gems Repertoire Company ; Tommy Shearer Company performed for a week
  • Augustus Pitou's Production of "The Gunner's Mate"
  • John Kernell and Tim Cronin in "What Happened to Reilly"
  • Fred and Sadie Raymond in "The Missouri Girl"
  • Daisy Chaplin in "The Corner Grocery"
  • Emmet and Lottie Gibson in "Fritz in the Madhouse"
  • Hoyt's "A Milk White Flag" and "A Day and a Night"
  • Stetson's " Uncle Tom's Cabin"; Irene Myers in "The Burgler"
  • "What Happened to Jones", "The Queen of Chinatown"; Andrew's Opera Company preformed "Martha"
  • Freeland Dramtic Company preforms "Lynnwood" (March 22 1900 Trib.)
  • Sleight of hand at Grand (April 26, 1900 Trib.)
Here's a list of some events at Yannes Opera House as reported in the 1900 Freeland Tribune and contributed here by Katherine and Charles Miller:
  • Striker's ball (September 21, 1900 Trib.) during coal miner's strike
  • Citizen's Band Ball (April 19 1900 Trib.)
  • St. Patrick's Cornet Band, Easter ball, music by DePierro's Orchestra (April 12, 1900 Trib.)
  • St. Kasmire's Ball (February 19, 1900 Trib.)

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