Opened October 1871
Closed January 1872
Opera Hall was a very short-lived venue in the Bailey Building.*
An announcement in the Champaign County Gazette of Wednesday, 18 October, 1871, noted that Messrs. Baker & Mulliken leased the third-story hall in David Bailey’s new building on Neil Street. The announcement continued that it was “their intention to fit it up in good style, build a suitable stage, prepare scenery, etc., etc., and supply everything which will tend to make it easy and comfortable.” Opera Hall was the name chosen for the new venue. 1
Just a few months later, a story in the Wednesday, 10 January, 1872, edition of the Champaign County Gazette reported that the Masonic order had signed a five-year lease for Opera Hall to use as their new lodge rooms. They had already moved the furniture into the new rooms which were “soon to be fitted up in the very best style.” It was reported that a leaky roof made the old rooms uninhabitable. 2
In its short tenure, Opera Hall had held performances by Com, Foote, and Sister and their company. The act consisted of songs, dances, and representations of statuary. 3 The Champaign Dancing Club also held regular dances at Opera Hall. 4
* The Bailey, Rugg, and Walker buildings, from the beginning, were collectively referred to as the Metropolitan Building by the newspapers and the general public. They are, in fact, three adjacent, Italianate style buildings that faced Neil Street. The owners cooperated in the construction in 1871. The north building, on the corner of Church Street, was built by the Rugg family. The center building, by the Bailey family, and the south building by the Walker family. A spectacular fire in November 2008 took out the Bailey and Rugg buildings and heavily damaged the Walker building.