Medford Opera House of 1902 Burns Down in 1912

Jan 7, 2015


Work began on J. R. Wilson’s new opera house in Medford on May 9, 1902, and a grand opening was held in July.  The owners touted the wooden building as one of the finest, best furnished and safest in a fire of any public hall in Southern Oregon.

A fuse in the electric lighting system burned out and delayed the evening program at the grand opening. 

Minstrel shows, moving pictures using Edison’s marvelous machine, musicians and plays soon graced the stage.  It also hosted political events, including talks on taxation, prohibition and women’s suffrage.

By 1911, the building, located near the intersection of Eighth and Central streets, was too small for the size of the audiences and traveling theater companies.  

On Oct. 3, 1912, a mysterious fire started outside the building, but was extinguished before causing damage.  A few days later an inside fire at 5 o’clock in the afternoon destroyed the building. Ironically, the name of the current play was “Bought And Paid For,” and could be seen through the flames.

Insurance covered $1,500 of the estimated $5,000 loss of the building.


Source:  “Medford Opera House sparks interest.”  Since You Asked.  Mail Tribune, 29 Sept. 2012.  Web.  9 Dec. 2014.