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National and State Registers of Historic Places

Florence Opera House

Picture of property SW Corner of 5th and Main
Florence (Marion County)
Listed in National Register Jan 18, 2011

Architect: John M. Anderson (builder)
Category: vacant/not in use; specialty store; music facility
Thematic Nomination: Historic Theaters and Opera Houses of Kansas

Built in 1883 and 1884, the Florence Opera House was the joint effort of French immigrants Gustave Caze, Emile Firmin, and Francis Ayral. Emporia contractor John M. Anderson built the opera house, which was noted in promotional material as having "imposing height and ornamental finish [that] give grace and dignity to the entire architecture of the town." The building was completed in just six months at a cost of $15,000. The first floor was designed for commercial use. The second floor was built to house both the opera house and offices, and the third floor was used as a stage and dressing rooms with a balcony at the back. The opening of the Florence Opera House on January 24, 1884 was touted as a "grateful triumph for the drama loving people" and "an important epoch in the history of Florence." The theater season began the following day, with a performance of the “Linwood Case,” a play written by Scott Marble. The opera house closed in 1917, by which time a movie theater had opened across the street. The building is significant for its association with local entertainment history.

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