October 23, 1889: Grand opening of Duluth’s Temple Opera House

On this day in Duluth in 1889, the city’s social elite gathered for the opening night festivities of the Temple Opera House at 8–12 Second Avenue East, where they were treated to a performance by operatic soprano Rose Coghlan who performed the female lead in the play Jocelyn. (Coghlan also performed at the opening night of Duluth’s Grand Opera House in 1883—and both buildings were destroyed by fire six years after they opened.) The next day the Duluth Daily News described the building as: “Grand, imposing, beautiful! The Temple is indeed the ideal of the artist’s dream and the actor’s cherished hope. Beautiful in design, nothing of the practical has been sacrificed for effect, but rather has been made to lend to the beauty of the whole. From the avenue the massive pile, illuminated by nearly one thousand incandescent lights, presented a picture most beautiful. But inside the beautiful Temple! Its gorgeous colors and brilliant lights; its beautiful scenery, the sweet strains of orchestral music—indeed it was an event in the dramatic history of the Northwest that will not soon be forgotten.” The newspaper also gushed over noted theatre architect Oscar Cobb’s work on the auditorium: “The proscenium boxes are marvels of beauty and comfort…. There are eighteen boxes, nine on each side, in three tiers of three boxes each. Each box has a railing of brass highly polished, which adds to the rich effects. The parquet and dress circles are seated in solid blue, with Wilton carpet in terra cotta in the aisles. The foyer is richly dressed. The windows are curtained in gorgeous Vallours [sic] in old gold. Two of its fine doors are in Vallours [sic] in solid Spanish red portieres and valances, and the other three are in Spanish red portieres and old gold valances, all hung on brass poles.” Read a complete history of the Temple Opera House here and the Temple Opera Block here.

The Temple Opera Block and Temple Opera House photographed between 1890 and 1895. (Image: Duluth Public Library)