On the southeast corner of N. Third and Walnut Streets stood the Grand Opera House, erected in 1873 at a cost of $160,000, by the Masonic Fraternity and designed by architect Frank E. Davis. Serving also as the Harrisburg Masonic Temple, lodge rooms were located on the upper floors and a theater, which was separately leased for cultural events, was situated below. Here Harrisburg's cultural life was taken to new heights as a place where nationally renowned theatrical and musical productions could be staged. Also held were social events, graduation exercises and political meetings as the Grand Opera House was one of Harrisburg's principal places of public assembly. The building and many surrounding structures were totally destroyed by a catastrophic fire on February 1, 1907, ten years to the month after the old State Capitol Building was similarly destroyed. The Masonic Temple was later rebuilt at Third and State Streets (now the Barto Building) and ultimately in uptown Harrisburg as the Zembo Mosque. The internationally known Penn Harris Hotel later stood at this site from 1918 to 1973.
Circa 1900 view showing the Grand Opera House's robust architectural features and Italianate design.
Pre-construction rendering made by architect Frank E. Davis
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