The Harrington Opera House and Bank Block

The Harrington Opera House and Bank Block building housed the Bank of Harrington, one of the first banks in the city. The building was designed by local construction firm J.R. Burrill and Company and run by local pioneers John F. Green, Marion F. Adams and Albert G Mitchum. The building opened in December of 1904 and housed a bank, a bowling alley, a barber shop, cigar and confectionery shop, the Harrington Citizen newspaper, as well as an upstairs opera house. It cost $25,000 to build the Romanesque brick structure, which used Harrington-made bricks to construct the exterior.


The first show to be produced in the upstairs auditorium was "The Lady Minstrels" on December 16, 1904, and it drew the largest crowd the Opera House would ever see. In the backstage dressing rooms, there are names of past actors/ actresses signed on the walls. Such names include the Jolly Entertainers, Miss Clara Gooley, the Odessa Dramatic Club and Harrington High School. When the auditorium opened, it boasted 350 seats but shows normally drew over 400 guests at one time. To this day eight scenic canvases dating back to 1906, created by J.R. Quinn and the Spokane Scenic Studios, still exist. On the back of the canvases there are hand drawn portraits of people, mainly faces of women, and one Native American chief.


The Bank of Harrington remained open until 1969 when it was bought out by Old National Bank and moved a block away to 3rd and Main. When the lobby was being renovated, the old teller's counter was sold to the Spokane Old Spaghetti Factory where it can be seen today. The old bank lobby became the lobby for the Opera House and the old barber shop now acts as the town's historical museum. The building was bought by the Harrington Opera House Society when they were formed on January 11, 1992, for one dollar. The sale was facilitated by local retired college professor Douglass Rudkoff and other members of the Society, which has been maintaining the building ever since. When the building was bought, the South facing exterior wall was sagging and needed to be repaired. The repairs are not very noticeable but make the building more stable. A new staircase was installed in 2008 in order to connect the main bank lobby and the upstairs auditorium and stay up to fire code. The ceiling of the auditorium was also replaced in 2010.


Over the years there have been a wide variety of events held at the Harrington Opera House. The infamous movie "Birth of a Nation" was shown in the Opera House in 1917 as well as "The Gay Deceiver" in 1926. The off- Broadway production of "The Imprudent Young Couple" written in 1895 made a stop in Harrington and it's playbill is hanging in the lobby to this day. The most common events that took place in the auditorium were balls and dances. The last event planned at the Opera House, a Valentine's Day dance, was scheduled for February of 1942, but it was canceled due to "the war and weather conditions." The decorations from that dance were not taken down until the buildings eventual sale in 1992.

Today the Opera House stands restored and again hosts a variety of events, from town meetings to concerts. It remains the cultural center of Harrington and is an important element in the town's revitalization efforts.

Images

North Side of the Bank Block building ca. 1920's

North Side of the Bank Block building ca. 1920's

Photo Courtesy of the Harrington Historical Society. View File Details Page

Harrington Opera House auditorium ca. 1950's-1960's

Harrington Opera House auditorium ca. 1950's-1960's

Inside the Harrington Opera House auditorium ca. 1950's-1960's. Photo courtesy of the Harrington Historical Society. View File Details Page

Playbill for the Racist Epic "Birth of a Nation"

Playbill for the Racist Epic "Birth of a Nation"

The playbill for the "Birth of a Nation," one of the most controversial movies of its time. Photo courtesy of Laura Glasgow. View File Details Page

 Harrington Opera House Interior

Harrington Opera House Interior

Modern day view of the upstairs auditorium of the Harrington Opera House. Photo courtesy of Laura Glasgow. View File Details Page

Bank Check

Bank Check

A bank check from the Harrington State Bank. The checkbook still sits in the Harrington Opera House main lobby. Photo courtesy of Laura Glasgow. View File Details Page

Bank Block Building on National Historic Register

Bank Block Building on National Historic Register

Photo courtesy of the Harrington Opera House and Ed Haugan. View File Details Page

Trolley Car Manufactured

Trolley Car Manufactured

Article from the Spokane Daily Chronicle from August 8, 1970. View File Details Page

Lady Mistrels

Lady Mistrels

Advertisement for Harrington Opera House's first show "Lady Mistrels". Photo Courtesy of the Harrington Opera House Society. View File Details Page

The Imprudent Young Couple

The Imprudent Young Couple

One of the traveling shows that was preformed at the Harrington Opera House Photo courtesy of Laura Glasgow. View File Details Page

"The Gay Deceiver"

"The Gay Deceiver"

The playbill for the show "The Gay Deceiver" that came through Harrington. Photo courtesy of Laura Glasgow. View File Details Page

Backstage Graffiti

Backstage Graffiti

A hand-drawn portiat of a woman ca. 1909. Photo courtesy of Larry Cebula. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Laura Glasgow, “The Harrington Opera House and Bank Block,” Spokane Historical, accessed June 25, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/305.

Subjects

comments powered by Disqus

Share this Story