Yannes Opera House, later Krell's Hall, Front Street

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History of Freeland, Pa.
Opera houses

What's on this page:
  • Yannes Opera House
  • Grand Opera House
On related pages:

Yannes Opera House [This is a correction to what was previously posted.]

Yannes Opera House dance card 1901Improvements to Yannes Opera House, 1893 John Yannes was born in the Tyrolean alps, emigrated to the U.S. decades later, and moved to Freeland sometime around 1879. He was listed in the 1882-1884 and 1884-1886 Freeland directories as a bottler located at the southwest corner of Front and Washington streets. He was NOT listed in the 1886-1888 directory, likely because of the disastrous fire that was accidentally started in a neighbor’s barn, destroying his building and a number of other buildings on that block in mid-September 1886. He had a new 3-story brick building erected there on that corner in 1887-1888 (see postcard at right) that would become his opera house, hotel and saloon, with a bottling business in the back. Sometime between late 1899 and early 1901 his building was sold to [William?] Krell, and had its grand opening as Krell’s Hall later in 1901. The 1901 dance card at right here comes from Bernard Yannes and may have been from one of the last events held there by John Yannes. After the building changed hands he moved his saloon business two blocks south to “the old Berner property” at the southwest corner of Washington and South streets, previously the site of J. C. Berner's general store.

1904 events at Krell's Hall and Grand Opera House I have been told that around 1915 Krell's Hall 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. This may have been when it was known as the Freeland Auditorium. Moving pictures were now being shown there, and basketball games were played. 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 comes from John Zubach and shows Yannes' Opera House in the front left area of the photo. The 1904 ad for events at Krell's Hall and the Grand Opera House comes from Ed Merrick.

Thank you to Ed Merrick for research, the 1893 clipping about planned improvements to the Yannes Opera House, and the 1904 ad for events. He also did the research on the 1886 fire. Thanks also to Charlie Stumpf and Bernard Yannes.

Grand Opera House [This is a correction to what was previously posted.]

Grand Opera House and schoolhouse, 1941 Grand Opera House groundbreaking, 1895 1900 Sanborn map detail A second opera house was built 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, thanks to 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 also contributed the article at left about the 1895 groundbreaking, which gives the dimensions of the building as 50 feet frontage on Ridge street and 90 feet along Luzerne street.

New manager at the Grand Opera House, 1899 The Young Men's Corps elected Patrick McGeehan in 1899 as the new manager of the opera house, and three new appointments to the board of directors were also made. Five years later in 1904 the Young Men's T.A.B. Society also paid off $500 of the mortgage.

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, McMenamin's Gents' Furnishings, Hat and Shoe Store. How 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. (!)

Grand 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.)
Thank you to Katherine and Charles Miller for these lists, to Charlie Gallagher for the ticket photos and 1909-1910 clipping describing the building interior as well as the 1941 photo of the building exterior and the 1895 report of the groundbreaking.

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Site contructed by C. Tancin.
The URL for this page is: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/ct0u/opera-houses.html