Tecumseh Opera House

Tecumseh Opera House
Location 123 S. Third, Tecumseh, Nebraska
Coordinates 40°22′4″N 96°11′46″W / 40.36778°N 96.19611°W / 40.36778; -96.19611Coordinates: 40°22′4″N 96°11′46″W / 40.36778°N 96.19611°W / 40.36778; -96.19611
Area less than one acre
Built 1880
Built by Dunlap,W.L.
Architectural style Two-part commercial block
MPS Opera House Buildings in Nebraska 1867-1917 MPS
NRHP reference # 88000929[1]
Added to NRHP September 28, 1988

The Tecumseh Opera House, located at 123 S. Third in Tecumseh, Nebraska, is a historic building built in 1880. It is a two-part commercial block building, and has also been known as Seaver Bros. Opera House, as Smith Theatre, as Hahn Opera House, as Spicknall & Goodman Opera House, as Goodman & Canfield Opera House, and as Villars Hall, and it has been denoted NeHBS #J007-53 and OHBIN #ll-29-OI.[1][2]

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.[1] It was deemed significant as a well-preserved example of an opera house building in Nebraska.[2]

The building

The Tecumseh Opera House is a brick structure measures 76 feet wide by 80 feet wide. The roof is pitched and tar-covered and has sustained significant water damage, but it was repaired. Access to the second-floor auditorium is only by way of a wide staircase, at the top the ticket counter that was there has been removed.[3]

The auditorium of the Tecumseh Opera House stands 30 feet wide by 60 feet, 6 inches long. The theatre does not have a balcony. The original molded white tin ceiling is still there, however it and the surrounding walls have experienced rain damage. The proscenium arch spans 20 feet across and 11 feet high. The stage floor is 18 feet deep from the beginning of the arch at the front of the stage to the back wall. The stage has no apron and contains no trap doors.[3]

The structural and historical integrity of the building has been preserved.


Performing arts

The Tecumseh Opera House brought a variety of entertainment to the people of Tecumseh and the surrounding areas. As a center for the performing arts, the Tecumseh Opera House, was home to productions such as musical concerts, touring stock companies, performers such as Maude Atkinson, Katie Putnam, and John Dillon, classics such as Monte Cristo]], Uncle Tom's Cabin]], and East Lynn, minstrel shows such as the Tecumseh Ticklers, grand and comic opera, dialect comedies, and home talent shows.[3]

Performing Arts History[3]

Dates Description
Jan. 1881 Home talent variety show
Nov. 1881 Wallace Sisters in Minnie's Luck

Church Choir Co. of Atchison, Kansas, in Capital Jake and Penelope

Georgia Minstrels

Oct. 1882 Whiteley's Co.'s The Hidden Hand with Nera Vernon and Dick Oglesby

Home Dramatic Society's The Fallen Saved, home talent

Nov. 1882 Among the Breakers, home talent
Dec. 1882 Double Mammoth Uncle Tom's Cabin co.
Oct. 1883 Katie Putnam in Old curiosity Shop
Nov. 1883 James Heywood's Mastodon Minstrels with Heywood's Mastodons,

Mocking Bird Minstrels, and Uncle Tom's Cabin

Union Square Co. with Uncle Reuben Lowder, French Spy, and Gertrude the Unknown

John Dillon in The State's Attorney

Smith's Uncle Tom Combination

Oct. 1884 Maude Atkinson troupe
Nov 1884 Double Uncle Tom's Cabin
Oct. 1885 All Fool's Day

Peck's Bad Boy Combination

Nov. 1885 A Widow Hunt, home talent by the Tecumseh Comedy Co.
Oct. 1887 McFadden Uncle Tom's Cabin Troupe
Oct. 1888 Noble Dramatic Co. with Uncle Dan'l
Nov. 1888 Gyp Junior, home talent operetta

A Cold Day, or the Lap-Landers

Pavanilli Troupe

Aiden Benedict in Monte Cristo

Dec. 1888 The Louie Lord Co.
Oct. 1889 Colored Warblers

Boston Ideal Minstrels

Dec. 1889 Blind Boone Concert Co.
Nov. 1890 Grand Comedy Co.
Dec. 1890 Nevada by home talent, music by Tecumseh Military Band
Oct. 1891 Kemper Komedy Co. with The Black Flag

The Tennessee Scout by home talent

Oct. 1892 Little Tycoon Opera Co. of Pawnee City

Berger-Dainty Concert Co.

Nov. 1892 Edgewood Folks with Alba Herwood
Oct. 1893 John Dillon in A Model Husband
Nov. 1893 Child's Comedy Co. and Baby Brass Band
Dec. 1893 Lindsay Dramatic Co. with Ingoma and Miralda
Oct. 1894 Dewey Heywood Concert Co.

A Cold Day and Chip O' the Old Block

Nov. 1894 Uncle Tom's Cabin Co.
Oct. 1895 A Turkish Bath

Madam Fry Concert Co.

Nov. 1895 A.M. Palmer's New York Co. with Trilby
Oct. 1896 Juno Barrett Co. in Reddy, the Mail Girl
Nov. 1896 Bittner Theatre Co. with Friends, Josh Spruceby, and The Lightning Express

Josh Dillon in Wanted the Earth

Oct. 1897 The King of the Klondyke

Senter-Payton Comedy co.

Walter McDonald in Gilhooley's Reception

The Missouri Girl

Carlton & Lord Comedians in The American Princess with Jennie Calef

Nov. 1897 Beach & Bowers' Minstrels

F. E. Spooner's Dramatic Co. with The Flower Girl

The Nashville Students

Oct. 1898 The Merrie Bells Opera Co. with Olivette starring Ada Palmer Walker and Ed Seamans as Fra Diavola
Nov. 1898 The Shakers Medicine Show

Uncle Hiram by the Tecumseh Dramatic Co.

Oct. 1899 A Turkish Bath

Labadie's Co.'s Faust

Richards and Pringles famous Georgia Minstrels

Maloney's Wedding

Oct. 1900 Curts Dramatic Co.

Schubert Symphony Club concert, including the Shubert Lady Quartet

Nov. 1900 Fitz & Webster's My Daughter's Husband with Dan Sherman

Hans Hansen

Oct. 1901 Golden Rule Company
Nov. 1901 In Old Kentucky by the Tecumseh Dramatic Club

Hogan's Alley

Lillian Sterling's Burlesquers

Courtney Morgan in East Lynne

Dec. 1901 Lincoln J Carter's The Eleventh Hour with Carles Gardner

Madam Elsie de Tourney in Mary, Queen of Scots and Romeo and Juliet

Oct. 1902 Holden Brothers' The Denver Express

A Breezy Time

Nov. 1902 E. J. Carpenter's For Her Sake

Tecumseh Choral Union concert

Brown's in Town

Guy Green's Indians

Dec. 1902 Down Mobile by Lincoln J. Carter
Oct. 1903 Fulton Bros. Stock Co. in A Married Bachelor and Under Two Flags

Earle Doty & Co. in The Iron Mask

Don Wescott Novelty Entertainment Co.

Where is Cobb?

Gilbert Faust's The Two Orphans

Nov. 1903 Dixon Stock Co. in Don Caesar de Barzan with Leland Webb

A Thoroughbred Tramp

Oct. 1904 E. J. Carpenter's A Little Outcast

Joseph DeGrasse & Co.'s Hamlet

Byron Troubadours of Chicago

King- Perkins co.'s Old Farmer Hopkins with Frank G. King and Chic Perkins

The Girl From Kansas

Nov. 1904 Kerhoff Stock Co. in A Southern Rose, Down on the Farm, Sappho, and A Family Affair.

Was She to Blame?

Oct. 1905 Manning Glee Club of Boston

E. J. Carpenter's A Little Outcast

Wood & Ward's The Two Married Tramps

Nov. 1905 A Royal Slave with Eunice Murdock

Stetson's Uncle Tom's Cabin co.

Oct. 1906 Prof. O. B. Griffith of the Griffith Comedy Co.

The Country Kids

Roland & Clifford's Over Niagara Falls

Nov. 1906 Walker Whiteside's We Are King with Lawrence Evart
Oct. 1907 Oakes & Wilson's A Bachelor's Honeymoon with Herbert DeGuerre and Grace Johnson

When We Were Friends

J. C. Lewis in The New Si Plunkard

Nov. 1907 Old Times entertainment by home talent

The Slow Poke with W.B. Patton

Chimes of Norway by the Beggar Prince Comic Opera Co.

Wood & Ward's Two Merry Tramps

Dec. 1907 The Oriole Concert Co.
Oct. 1908 Sumner-Davis Concert Co.

My Dixie Girl

MacCauley & Patton's When We Were Friends

Nov. 1908 Wood & Ward's Two Merry Tramps and The Indiana Indians

The Cow-Puncher by Hal Reid

Three Years in Arkansaw

Lucas Garrett Co.

Oct. 1909 Robert Sherman's My Friend from Arkansaw

The Man On the Box

The Belle of Japan

Alterbery & Guys' The Missouri Outlaw

Strollers Male Quartet & Concert Co.

Nov. 1909 Jack Mahara's White Minstrels

Burton Nixon's Lena Rivers

The Blockhead with W. B. Patton

Doc Allman's Old Dan Tucker

Oct. 1910 St. Elmo

Chicago Boys' Choir with Sarah Wathena Brown, Harpist

The Prize Winners with the Lyman Twins and Patti Rosa

Just a Woman's Way

Nov. 1910 The House of A Thousand Candles, original New York company

The Girl from U.S.A.

Edward P Reno, magician

Violet Griffith Stock Co. in The Cowboy and the Lieutenant

Henry Eames, pianist

Brown's Tennessee Minstrels

Oct. 1911 Gaskill & MacVitty's The Rosary with Robert Harlan

As Told in the Hills

Nov. 1911 The Wizard of Wizeland

The Pumpkin Husker

James T. McApin's Hans Hanson

The Tecumseh Ticklers by home talent

Election Night Concert by M. Beyrl Buckley, Miss Minnie Koester, and the Tecumseh Military Band

Oct. 1912 The Wolf
Nov. 1912 The City with Hugo B. Koch

The Girl and the Gawk

Tecumseh Ticklers, home talent minstrel show

Oct. 1913 The Confession

Hillman's Ideal Stock Co. with Ida Root-Gordon

and Harry Sohns in The Thoroughbred, The Telephone Girl, and The Defaulter

The Girls of Eagle Ranch

Old Theobaldi violin concert

Nov. 1913 Tecumseh Ticklers, home talent minstrel show

The Spendthrift

Shepherd of the Hills

Lazy Bill with W. B. Patton

Dec. 1913 Henri Bernstein's The Thief with Miss Janet Allyn

Guy Caufman in A Fool and His Money

Jan. 1914 James & Crane, Inc., with The Virginian
Feb. 1914 Sarah Padden in Lavender and Old Lace
Aug. 1914 The Commercial Traveler
Sep. 1914 The Last Settlement with Hal Worth

Moore- Eddings Stock Co. with Her Legal Prisoner,

The Two Sisters, The Whirlpool, Why Lindy Ran Away, St. Elmo, and Married Life.

Oct. 1914 Hastings Stock Co. with Rosalind at Redgate, The Divorce Question, and The Final Settlement

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, home talent

The Stranger

The Girl and The Tramp

Nov. 1914 The Time, The Place, and The Girl

The Call of the Cumberlands with Hugh B. Koch

The Under Dog

Terry's Uncle Tom's Cabin

Tempest and Sunshine

Tecumseh Ticklers, home talent minstrels.

Dec. 1914 Wolford Stock Co., In the Shadow of the Cross
Oct. 1915 The Prince of Tonight
Nov. 1915 Mutual Stock Co.

Tecumseh Ticklers, home talent minstrels

Wood & Ward in Two Merry Tramps

Sep 1916 The Girl from the U.S.A.
Oct. 1916 The Other Man's Wife with Ann Hamilton
Nov. 1916 In Old Kentucky

Tecumseh Ticklers, home talent minstrels

Dec. 1916 Little Peggy O'Moore
Oct. 1917 Davenny Festival Quintet

A Night in Honolulu with The Imperial Hawaiians

A Good For Nothing Husband

Nov. 1917 Hillman Ideal Stock Co.

The Girl Without a Chance

Dec. 1917 The End of a Perfect Day with Miss Rose Dean


The Tecumseh Opera House served as a place where the whole community of Tecumseh and the surrounding areas would be able to gather to attend dances, lectures, temperance meetings, and silent movies.[3]

Entertainment/recreation history

Dates Description
Oct. 1881 Episcopal Society entertainment

Mrs. Ingham's dance

Oct. 1882 Lecture by Mrs. Elizabeth L. Saxon

Tank Kee lecture

Nov. 1883 Silver Cornet Band ball

Grand masquerade ball

Dec. 1883 Home talent instrumental and vocal music

Temperance lecture by Mrs. Fixen

November 1885 Eli Perkin, "The Champ Liar of the World"

Annual masquerade ball

Lecture by Dr. Zielle and son, "Stage and Pulpit"

Nov. 1887 Annual masquerade ball

Prof. Jundano, ventriloquist and legerdemainist

Dec. Lecture by Prof. Vaught on "Better Marriages"

Benefit ball for Tecumseh Band

Nov. 1889 Grand masquerade ball

Lecture by Mary A. Livermore of Boston on "Women of the War"

Oct. 1890 Temperance lecture by Luther Benson
Nov. 1892 Ball sponsored by Peerless Dancing Club, music by Professor Luft's Orchestra
Oct. 1893 Lectures by Father Enright on "Temperance" and "The True Church"
Nov. 1893 Lucia B. Griffin, elocutionist and impersonator

Ball sponsored by Tecumseh Dancing CLub

"Hard Times" Ball

Nov. 1898 Lectures by the Shaker Doctor on "Health" and "How to Live,"

then grand entertainment using Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope

Nov. 1899 Kline's Lumiere Cinematograph moving pictures

Prof. Harry Olsen's students' musical recital

Oct. 1900 Dance, music by three Italians
Oct. 1903 Tecumseh Fire Dept. ball

Lecture by Col. George W. Bain on "Among the Masses"

Oct. 1904 Lecture by Dr. M. Stewart on "Naples and Rome"
Nov. 1904 Lecture by Prof. Frank R. Robertson on "Russia-Japan: The Destiny of the Far East"
Dec. 1904 Elias Day, characterist
Oct. 1905 Fire Dept. ball, music by Tecumseh Orchestra
Oct. 1906 Fire Dept. ball
Nov. 1907 Moving Pictures
Nov. 1911 Fire Dept. ball

Lecture by Col. P. E. Holp, "California"

Feb. 1914 Promenade concert and grand ball by Tecumseh Military Band

Public dance by Tecumseh Military Band

Nov. 1914 Lyman H. Howe's Travel Festival, moving pictures

change of management: primary booking now

Dec. 1915 Lyman H. Howe's California Exposition, moving pictures
Nov. 1916 Election night dance

Lyman H Howe's Travel Festival, moving picture

Nov. 1917 Grand masque ball

Sarah Mildred Willmer, reader


The Tecumseh Opera House was a nonaffiliated place where people could have political meetings, church socials, basketball, and school entertainment. Before radio and television were invented to tell people about events, they were often scheduled and anticipated months in advance.[3]

Social history
Dates Description
Oct. 1882 Political Speech by J. Sterling Morton
Nov. 1883 Chicken Pie festival by ladies of the Universalist Church
Nov. 1885 Pound Party to benefit the Home of the Friendless in Lincoln
Oct. 1888 Political speech by Sen. Charles F. Manderson
Nov. 1900 Chrysanthemum show and supper
Nov. 1903 Bazaar, supper, and entertainment by ladies of St. Andrew's Church
Nov. 1903 Girls' basketball, town team vs. last year's high school team
Nov. 1904 Basketball, Tecumseh vs. State Normal
Oct. 1905 Girls' and boys' basketball, Tecumseh vs. Table Rock
Nov. 1908 Art exhibit and entertainment by high school pupils

Basketball, Tecumseh vs. Wilber

Dec. 1908 "County Fair" bazaar by M. E. Church
Oct. 1917 "County Fair" pumpkin show by Tecumseh Bandage Circle


  1. 1 2 3 National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. 1 2 D. Layne Ehlers (April 1988). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Tecumseh Opera House / Seaver Bros. Opera House / Smith Theatre / Hahn Opera House". National Park Service. and accompanying two photos
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 National Register of Historic Places, Tecumseh Opera House, Tecumseh, Nebraska, National Register #J007-53
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