Central City Opera Fact Sheets
Established in 1932. Celebrating 90 Years in 2022.
Historic Preservation in Central City
Central City Opera’s mission of historic preservation is dedicated to award-winning stewardship of the Opera House and 28 other vintage properties in the Central City / Black Hawk National Landmark Historic District. The distinctive Opera House, the charming Teller House hotel, several former commercial and industrial buildings and more than two dozen houses are maintained as performance, training and residence facilities for the summer opera festival. The properties also physically signify Colorado’s role in the settlement of the Rocky Mountain West.
NOTABLE PROPERTIES OWNED BY CENTRAL CITY OPERA
Central City Opera House (est. 1878)
Built by Welsh and Cornish miners, the Opera House is the most recognized of Central City Opera’s historic properties. The Opera House is known for its elaborately frescoed ceiling, its perfect acoustics and the names of Colorado pioneer families and notables of the American stage and opera carved on the backs of the seats, including Horace Tabor, Buffalo Bill, Beverly Sills and Lillian Gish. Through attentive preservation, the Central City Opera House embodies a unique blend of jewel-box theater splendor and contemporary comfort today.
The Teller House (est. 1872)
When it opened its doors in 1872, the Teller House was the most opulent hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. Rooms cost $2 a night at a time when the going rate was 50 cents. Though no longer used as a hotel, the Teller House is the center for opera-related activities, such as receptions, recitals and gift shopping. It also houses the famous Face Bar with the famous “Face on the Barroom Floor” and classical murals on the surrounding walls. Located next door to the Opera House, the Teller House is also a living museum of Victorian artifacts and furniture once belonging to Baby Doe Tabor and Governor John Evans.
- Williams Stables (est. 1876)
Built in 1876, Williams Stables was a full-service livery for the guests of the Teller House across the street. The Opera House Association purchased Williams Stables from the City of Central in 1953, and turned it into an intimate ninety-seat venue used for rehearsals, Short Works opera performances and free pre-performance discussions known as Opera Notes.
- Johnson House (est. 1867)
Said to be the first home in Central City to have indoor plumbing, the white Gable Front/Folk Victorian was built in 1867 and is named after Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson, who gifted it to the Opera in 1961. It was built by Judge Henry A. Hicks who was Gilpin County’s District Attorney. The home was also previously owned by Henry and Maude Lowe, who donated Festival Hall to Central City Opera. Today, the Johnson House is used for hosting festival-related receptions. In 2019, it underwent extensive renovations fully donated by the American Society of Interior Designers.