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July deTour of The Lexington Opera House


Due to the free, public Patriotic Concert on Wednesday, July 3rd at Transylvania University, with audience seating on the Old Morrison lawn and in Historic Gratz Park, we are changing our July deTour to Wednesday, July 10. We will gather at 5:30 pm for our BGT deTour of The Lexington Opera House, located at 401 W Short St, at the corner of N. Broadway.

Described as the "costliest, handsomest, and most convenient Thespian temples in the South” and “an object of cherished pride in the city," the Lexington Opera House was built in 1886 and officially opened on August 19, 1887 in downtown Lexington, Kentucky with the production of "Our Angel" by the Lizzie Evans Stock Company. The three-story-tall building originally seated 1,250 people with two balconies and two boxes on either side of the stage. Designed by the Chicago architect Oscar Cobb, who was known for his design of theaters during this time, the theater’s interior was decorated with Turkish-Moroccon accents, and each box was equipped with its own hat rack, cane and umbrella holder, and springs to help people enter their seats.

In addition to the theater's amazing interior, the performance area was designed to accomodate a variety of unconventional settings. It was able to be flooded for "Henley Regatta" in 1890; 100 animals and a mile-long parade were used for the performance of "A Country Circus," in 1893; and in 1904, the performance of "Ben Hur" involved an on-stage chariot race. The Lexington Opera House also hosted many memorable performances that included the likes of John Phillip Sousa, Mrs. Tom Thumb, Will Rogers, Mae West, and the Marx Brothers, just to name a few. Unfortunately on October 1, 1926, the Opera House held its last live production and transitioned to its long use of as a movie theater, evetually falling into disrepair. Because of the condition of the building in the 1970s, it was scheduled for demolition, but thanks to both a public and private campaign to educate the citizens of Lexington about the heritage of the building, the Lexington Opera House was saved and now once again serves today as one of the finest places to see a live performance.

Guests for the deTour will gather outside the Opera House on the Short Street side of the opera house and will be divided into two groups for a behind the scenes tour of the building. Following the deTour, please join us at the Social AfterHour at nearby Zim’s Café, located in the historic Fayette Courthouse building at 215 W Main Street. For parking, there will be on street parking available near the Opera House, and feel free to use the Blue Grass Trust parking lots at the Dr. Thomas Hunt Morgan House (210 North Broadway) and at Hopemont, the Hunt-Morgan House (201 N. Mill). For any questions regarding our July 10 deTour, please contact us either by phone: 859-253-0362 or email us at

Later Event: July 20
Bourbon & Brews on Broadway