#tbt - September 12, 1891: The Sorg Opera House Opens
It was the talk of the town when it opened on this date – September 12 – in 1891.
One hundred twenty-eight years later, it still is.
Of course we refer to Downtown Middletown, Ohio’s revitalized gem, the Sorg Opera House, at 63 South Main Street.
From vaudeville acts and minstrel shows... to musical comedies and performances by locals...From the chanteuse to the rock ‘n roller...this grande dame of entertainment boasts a history that has welcomed the best and brightest in the entertainment universe.
For all that and more, you can credit one P.J. Sorg. The Middletown industrialist/philanthropist who attended public school and once labored in Cincinnati as an “iron molder apprentice” (*) possessed the foresight to establish this cultural masterpiece for all.
The first performance at the resplendent venue was the comic opera “The Little Tycoon.” (**)
In the September 12, 1891 “Daily Signal” newspaper (***) a writer named W.F. Foell heaped praise upon Sorg on the very day the opera house opened. It reads in part:
“It has often been a matter of conjecture in my mind whether the people in general appreciate the fact that our magnificent new opera house…has been built by our fellow townsman, P.J. Sorg, more for the welfare of the city than for personal benefit...
“...Mr. Sorg could have invested his money in other directions and made a good investment, but his interest in the welfare of our city is certainly evinced by his erection of such a grand structure, an incalculable benefit to this city, and a lasting monument to his name...
“In other cities far and wide, both by the people and the press, this noble act of his is the source of much commendation. The people of Middletown should not be oblivious to this deed...,” Foell wrote.
The Middletown newspaper, “The Daily Signal,” announced that on Tuesday, September 15, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” would be the “second attraction in Sorg’s magnificent new opera house...Every child in the city should be present … to witness the grand production....,” it proclaimed.
Many years later the opera house became the site of the Colonial Theater.
Today, thanks to the dedication of a revitalization team that not only respected its past but foresaw its stellar future, the Sorg Opera House once again beckons the finest in entertainment to grace its historical stage.