Old Opera House, 1846-1924 | East Texas Research Center
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The Opera House was built on the site of the former Mitchell Hotel. In 1889 John Schmidt commissioned architect Diedrich Rulfs to build an opera house that would act as a stop over place for theatrical companies as the traveled to Houston and Shreveport, La. The Opera House was home to numerous operas, plays, melodramas, burlesque and magic shows. It is even rumored that the famous Marx Brothers developed their improvisational style of comedy while performing there.
In 1923 Schmidt sold the building to D.K. and Willie Maud Cason. The new owners replaced the original red brick facade and renamed the building the Cason Building. In 2001 the D.K. Cason estate donated the property to Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) with the stipulations that the property be preserved, made available to the community and its use be associated with the arts. The building is currently "The Art Center" where it is used as an art exhibition hall and a place to host cultural events for the community and university. [The Daily Sentinel, Nacogdoches, Texas, June 14, 2007. B1]
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