Squire's Opera House, Seattle's first theater, opens on November 24, 1879.

  • By Eric Flom
  • Posted 1/01/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 1964

On November 24, 1879, the Squire’s Opera House, Seattle's first theater, opens. The evening’s event, sponsored by women from Congregational Church, features popular music, pantomimes, and tableaux put on to raise funds for the church.

The Squire's Opera House was Seattle's first theater, but Seattle had community centers and meeting halls to gather in within a couple of years of settlement. The previous halls were Yesler Mill Cook House (1853-59), Plummer’s Hall (1859-66), Yesler’s Hall (1861-70), and Yesler’s Pavilion (1865-87)

The Squire’s Opera House, located on the east side of Commercial Street (1st Avenue S) between Washington and Main streets, was built as a theater with two levels of seating for 584 theater-goers. During the next year, various operas and plays were performed, including selections from Macbeth by Barton Hill and Josephine Cameron, Seattle Minstrels, and a ventriloquist mystery by Professor Vertelli and Miss Rowland.

To its owners the Squire’s Opera House did not seem profitable enough. In September 1882, they turned it into the New Brunswick Hotel.


Howard F. Grant, The Story of Seattle’s Early Theatres (Seattle: University Book Store, 1934), 21; Eugene Clinton Elliott, A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle: From the Beginning to 1914 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944), 66, 72-73; Edwin Leonard Nelson, "The History of Road Shows in Seattle: From Their Beginnings to 1914" (Master's Thesis, University of Washington, 1947), 30.

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