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Act One

 

William Brownsfield Thorpe, David City banker, civic leader, patron of the arts and father of a musically gifted daughter, expressed his diverse interests through the design and construction of the Opera House.   Thorpe intended that the facility serve as both a cultural center for the community of David City and a hometown stage for his only daughter Estelle.

The facility was built in the style of most Midwestern opera houses of the day; a multi-story building, with business space available below the upstairs performing arts auditorium.   When W. B. Thorpe opened his three story brick opera house on the south side of the court house square in 1889, the community boasted one of the most beautifully designed and best-equipped opera houses in Nebraska.   The opening night audience sat on walnut stained hoop-backed chairs and faced double-tiered, velour-draped boxes on both sides of the main stage.   The interior of the opera house reflected Estelle's penchant for pastel blue.

 

A U-shaped balcony extended from the boxes on each side leading back to a third floor multi-tiered gallery in the rear of the auditorium which increased the seating capacity to 1,000 patrons.   The balcony seating was later removed.

Much of the theatrical entertainment, which appeared at the opera house both before and after the turn of the century, arrived in David City via one of the three railroads that served the town.