Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stafford (KS) Opera House

Weide Opera House, Stafford, Kansas
On November 5, 1888, Isaac B. Werner wrote in his journal:  "While eating my breakfast I decided should occasionally enjoy a holiday at least, so got ready & soon took off for Stafford City.  Got there by noon when they were forming the procession for Union Labor rally.  Looked hastily over the town which had improved a little surprisingly since my last trip through there some 7 years ago.  Had some speaking in a hall...  Close to 500 people attending, some 200 women and an enthusiastic audience it was too."

Although Stafford had vied with St. John for the Stafford County seat, it was St. John that won the battle at the ballot box.  (See "Isaac's Victorian Courthouse," 3-29-2012 in the blog archives.)  Consequently, Isaac traveled to the county seat in St. John more often than to Stafford.  Even so, it seems surprising to those of us today who think little of traveling  25 or 30 miles, that Isaac would not have returned to Stafford City for 7 years!

Eventually, Stafford got a new Opera House, but that structure had not been built when Isaac attended the Union Labor rally.  His only description was "some speaking in a hall," so I am uncertain of the building that might have hosted the speakers.  As always, Isaac was encouraged by seeing women taking part in political matters, although they did not yet have the vote.

Interior, Weide Opera House, Stafford, Kansas
The post card images in this blog, including The Weide Opera House, Stafford, Kas. at the beginning of this blog are part of the Yost/Leak Collection and should be credited as such.  The post card image of the interior of the Weide Opera House bears on the reverse side a postal cancellation with the date "1911, Sep 18," although the "Stafford County History, 1870-1990" indicates the building date as 1912.  (The postal cancellation would seem to establish that the construction was completed by the earlier date.) It was clearly an impressive building for public performances.

Unfortunately it fell on hard times and was demolished in 2013.  We are left to imagine what wonderful social evenings the residents of Stafford must have enjoyed in their Opera House in its prime!

(If you missed the blog about the Opera House in St. John, KS, you may visit it in the blog archives at "St. John (KS) Convention Hall & Opera House," 6-26-2014.)

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