In the day before TV and movies, etc., entertainment was provided by traveling groups who would put on Dramas at Opera Houses.

Piketon had one, built in the early 1900s, that was sadly destroyed by fire about 1985.

Waverly has one still standing, although it has been repurposed, and I dare say few even know where it is. 

Bainbridge has one and last I know it is used to put on The Paint Valley Country Music Shows. The one in Jackson was last used as the Cole Chrysler dealership and is now in the process of being repurposed again.

Before I tell you where the Waverly Opera House is, I have to tell you a little personal incident at the old Piketon Opera house back in the 1970s. During the Dogwood Festival the stage was located next to the Opera House and I was there to do a remote broadcast for the radio station.

I needed to make a phone call back to the station, so I went inside to ask to use the phone at the Dogwood headquarters, When I asked to use the phone, I was told I would have to buy a 25 cent raffle ticket to use the phone.

They were raffling off a pistol musket kit. I don’t believe in gambling, and I think they were kidding. But I thought it was only 25 cents, so to humor them I bought the ticket and made my call. When I got back outside, I had a feeling that I might actually win. A few days later I got a call to come pick up my pistol.

The Waverly Opera House started out as a Catholic Church on land sold to them by Waverly’s millionaire James Emmitt. Unfortunately after building it, they could not keep up with the payments and James foreclosed on them. He then made it into an Opera House. In terms of inflation I suspect Mr. Emmitt would have been close to or was a billionaire.

How many remember a TV program in the 50’s called “The Millionaire”, which ran from 1955-1960, where they would surprise someone with the gift of a million dollars and then explored the ways that sudden and unexpected wealth changed life, for better or for worse.

Today a millionaire would not begin to compare to James Emmitt’s day, let alone even in the ‘50s. If a person saved starting at age 21 and invested $100 per month at 10%, they would be a millionaire by retirement age of 67. That would be an investment of $55,200.00.

Apparently The Wallace Sisters were a well traveled group. I found this news item from a California newspaper, “The Morning Union” 28 March 1882.

“The Wallace Sisters, supported by a good comedy company, opened for a two night’s engagement last night at Reform Hall, with “Jacquette,” a play of the sensational order, Miss Jennie Wallace taking the title role, and Miss Maud Wallace the character of “Augusta De Vere.”

“Tonight will be presented “Minnie’s Luck,” a play founded on the “Ups and Downs of New York City Life”. The prices of admission will be as usual, 50 and 75 cents, and no extra charge for reserved seats.”

I note they were in Terre Haute, Indiana, in January of 1876. By 1926 they apparently had been doing their show for a long time.

OK, here is where you find the former Waverly Opera House. Travel to the 301 Walnut Street business of Willis and Sons, and you will see it.

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