Dayton Opera House Razed

Dayton Opera House Razed

Progress takes Old Dayton Opera House September 1937

In September 1937, the demands of progress claimed a landmark in downtown Dayton. The old Dayton Opera House, which began its career as a community center for the exhibition of dramatic art, was scheduled to be demolished to make way for the new post office building. The Opera House was erected in 1887 by W.C. Gardenhire, founder of the city, as we know it. The passing of the Opera House marks the passing of a mark not only in the progress of Dayton but in the field of historic entertainment as well. Oscar Seagle, one of the country’s greatest singers, once gave a performance in the old Opera House. It was also for many years the chosen scene of commencements of local educational institutions. The new Post Office was said to bring a distinct improvement to west Main Street. The old Post Office building still stands today being used as a utility collection point for the City of Dayton after the post office moved to a new location on 1St Ave.

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Published byDean

Born and raised in Dayton Tennessee, I have served in various public service positions in the past. I have a great interest in the History of our town. This site is a way for me to share some of the great history of the area.

1 Comment

  • Myra Douglas Blackburn Martin

    March 16, 2023 at 3:18 am

    Oscar Seagle (1877-1945), born in Ooltewah, Tennessee (now a suburb of Chattanooga), studied with Jean de Reszke in Paris, and had a successful career as a concert singer in the 1910s and 1920s. In 1915 he founded the Seagle Music Colony in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, a school which is still flourishing. From 1914 to 1926 he recorded prolifically for Columbia, with 96 issued sides to his credit. Of these, almost a third are of hymns or sacred songs.

    Goodspeed Biography of W. C. Gardenhire
    Posted on October 31, 2011 by
    W. C. Gardenhire, of Dayton, Tenn., was born in Roane County, May 14, 1838, son of George W. and Polly (Bottom) Gardenhire, both natives of Roane County, Tenn., and both of Scotch descent. The father was born in 1796, and is now living in Rhea County. The mother was born in 1806, and died in Hamilton County, near Chattanooga. They were married in Roane County, and subsequently moved to Hamilton County. The father was a farmer, a slave trader before the war, and a Democrat in politics. W. C. Gardenhire, received a liberal education, and began life as a salesman, which business he followed two years. He then established a mercantile business of his own at Harrison, and on a boat on the Tennessee River, which he continued up to the breaking out of the late, war, when he served three years in teh Confederate Army. In 1866 he went to California and was engaged in the mining stock business in that State up to 1869, at which time he made a voyage to the South Sea Islands, visiting the Fijians and the Sandwichers, Australians and a number of others. He returned to California in 1871, bringing with him four native Fijians, and after exhibiting them in Woodward Garden, San Francisco, for some time at $150 a day, he sold them to P. T. Barnum for $20,000. He returned to Tennessee the same year on a visit, and in the spring of 1872 he went back to California, and was engaged in the mining stock business up to 1878. In the meantime (1876) he went to Arizona, and located the town of Safford, Graham County. In the early part of 1877 he went to New York City, and was one of the charter members of the American Mining and Stock Exchange. About this time Mr. Gardenhire was suffering with Bright’s disease, and he spent several months in visiting the celebrated springs in the United States with no improved symptoms. In 1879 he started on a voyage around the world. He visited England, India, Africa, etc., and came into port at San Francisco, Cal., in the spring of 1881. April 3, of the same year, he married Miss Julia Wiseman, a native of Los Angeles, Cal., born May 21, 1858, daughter of William C. and Annie R. Wiseman of California. He afterward went to Arkansas and tested the virtue of the Eureka Spring. In 1884 he had a survey made, and located the town of Dayton, and subsequently built a fine residence there, and was cured of Bright’s disease by drinking water at Dayton Spring. He has been very active in the erection of buildings, and in improving the town. He has been instrumental in erecting six brick stores, opera house, brick livery stable, stone bank (called Dayton City Bank), and numerous other dwellings. Our subject is a Democrat in politics and a man well-known and well respected by all who know him. After returning from the South Sea Islands, he wrote a history of Fiji and the Fijians, which had a good sale.

    Published by The Goodspeed Publishing Co 1887

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