The Hayesville Opera House: The Best Place to Step Back in Time – Literally

This article from May 30, 2013 was written by Cece Otto about her experience at the Hayesville Opera House.

She has graciously let us post her article on our website

Read about Cece Otto. Original article link.

As of today, I’m now almost ten performances into this tour, and every venue I’ve performed in holds a unique space in my mind and heart. The Hayesville Opera House is an amazing venue for a musician like me, and I wish I could take this venue with me everywhere I go so you all could see hear what everyone in central Ohio sees regularly.

Built in 1886, this opera house has been restored back to its original glory, and is on the National Register as a historical landmark. From the time I walked into the venue for my rehearsal, this place took my breath away. From the hat racks under the wooden seats to the hand-painted backdrops, I was blown away at the preservation of this venue. The acoustics were perfect; it was an absolute dream to perform there.

View from the stage of the seating area. That is cast iron stove in the back was used to originally heat the place, but is no longer in use.

This is a view of the stage from the seats. The piano is on the floor on the right hand side, and that backdrop (painted in Chicago) is an original from 1886.
Here is another hand painted backdrop I found backstage. If you go to the Opera house’s website, you can see a photo of this same backdrop which was used in a play in 1916.
Here’s a picture detailing the tin ceiling (added in 1907), and motif work on the walls.

The Opera House is located in a very small town on the highway, which is a pity. I’m sure this venue has been so well-kept all of this time because of its location, but places like these need to be seen and experienced. The president of the restoration board is Dave Roepke, and he was so kind to not only play the piano for my performance, but he let me wander everywhere in the space to take photographs. I’ve performed on stages all over the world, and I’ve never seen as much backstage graffiti as I did in this place. I spent a long time reading all of the names, shows, and dates that people have left over 125+ years (including a disputed signature from Buffalo Bill in 1888). I too left my mark on that place, as you’ll see below.

If you look closely, you can see what appears to be a signature from Buffalo Bill.

This signature is definitely one of if not the earliest I found on the walls.
There are four dressing room at the Hayesville Opera House, and to me this one had the most interesting writing and drawings on the walls. Plus note in the photo that you can see an original gas lamp too!
I was very happy to “make my mark” in the dressing room you saw in the last picture.

I had a fantastic time performing in this venue, and would definitely perform there again. You can read more about my performance in Hayesville from Jamie at My Lincoln Highway here, or to read Denny Gibson’s review, click here. I’ll leave you with two more shots of me in at this lovely theatre. I am standing in front of the main curtain, and once picture is in color, and the other is in black and white. If you compare my black and white photo to the historic photos in this link, I think you’ll see that there’s not much difference between the two.



Up next, a short but sweet post about Western Ohio. Until then, keep listening for those songlines!