Krell Hall, Front Street

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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, ads and research from Charlie Gallagher and Ed Merrick. There may still be some confusion between the Yannes and Grand Opera Houses; much of the contemporary documentation doesn't contain addresses, but I'm working on sorting it out. 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!

Updated information 1/2021 about the Yanned Opera House, and more to come:

1895 Sanborn map detail Yannes Opera House dance card 1901 Yannes Opera House dance card 1901 Yannes Opera House - The Yannes Opera House at Front and Washington streets was built by Austrian immigrant John Yannes in 1886 after a large fire burned down his saloon/bottling works and many of the buildings on that side of the block. He featured both local entertainment and touring shows. Thanks to Ed Merrick we now know that sometime around 1901 the opera house changed hands and was acquired by William Krell. It was later known as Krell's hall.

Around 1914 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. 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's 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 - 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 from Charlie Gallagher. That is a cow's rump in the foreground, but across the field we see the schoolhouse that was later Belekanich's, and next to it was the building that was built as the Grand Opera House, later becoming a factory and now a seniors apartment complex.

Charlie Gallagher also contributed this small envelope containing several complimentary tickets for performances at the Grand Opera House. 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. Mr. McMenamin was also the manager of the Grand Opera House.

Grand Opera House ticket envelope Grand Opera House ticket envelope Grand Opera House complimentary ticket

This clipping of Grand Opera House information from Charlie Gallagher 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 provided 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. (!) Charlie also supplied this article about the groundbreaking for the Grand Opera House.

Bernard Gallagher's job at the Grand Opera House Groundbreaking for new opera house, 1895 article

The following lists of events at the opera houses were contributed by 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 Opera House. 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.)
And a few 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.)

1904 events at Krell's Hall and Grand Opera House Ed Merrick sent this 1904 ad for "Othello" at the Grand Opera House on Ridge and Luzerne, and a basketball game at Krell's Hall on Front and Washington. Seats for the opera were on sale at McMenamin's (see envelope images above), while tickets for the basketball game could be bought at Butterwick's jewelry and watches store on the northeast corner of Front and Centre.

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