Historic Properties

HISTORIC Property PRESERVATION

“Hard rock miners, many from Wales and Cornwall, had produced the gold to create a prosperous community that boasted the Teller House, the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco. Not satisfied with that, the citizens of Central City subscribed funds to build ‘…the best and most convenient Opera House in the West,’ complete with eight sets of scenery, two hot air furnaces, and a chandelier with 100 kerosene lamps. – from The Central City Opera House, Charlie H. Johnson

Fifty years later, the gold rush was over. Central City and its beautiful theater had fallen on hard times, when a group of civic leaders founded the Central City Opera House Association for the purpose of restoring the Opera House as a venue for a summer music and theater festival. In a mountain ghost town, in the heart of an economic depression, these leaders recognized the importance of preserving Colorado’s history and providing entertainment for the people. In July, 1932, the carefully refurbished Opera House reopened with a gala performance of Camille, directed by legendary Broadway producer Robert Edmond Jones, starring Miss Lillian Gish, and reported live by the new National Broadcasting Company’s radio broadcast network.

Our mission of historic preservation is dedicated to award-winning stewardship of the Opera House and 27 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 and as hallmarks of Colorado’s role in the settlement of the Rocky Mountain West. Please contact Historic Properties Director Eric Chinn for more information.

Central City opera-owned Properties in the CENTRAL CITY/BLACK HAWK NATIONAL LANDMARK HISTORIC DISTRICT

CENTRAL CITY OPERA HOUSE

The 1878 Central City Opera House built by Welsh and Cornish miners is the most recognized of Central City Opera’s historic properties within Central City / Black Hawk National Landmark Historic District. 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, names such as Horace Tabor, Buffalo Bill, Beverly Sills, and Lillian Gish. Today, the Central City Opera House is the perfect blend of jewel box theater splendor and contemporary comfort.

THE TELLER HOUSE

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, a gift shop. It also houses the famous Face Bar with the “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

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, performances of short works of opera, and free pre-performance discussions known as Opera Notes.

Johnson House

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.

Lanny and Sharon Martin Foundry Rehearsal Hall

Throughout the summer, you can find performers from the chorus, main stage and young artists’ program rehearsing at the Foundry. 

Historic Miners' Cottages

Almost two dozen historic miners’ cottages owned by Central City Opera house the cast and crew during the summer festival.