#1: G

The Musicians’ Balcony

#2: F

Washington Hall

#3: E

Penrose Complex

#4: H

Signboards

#5: C

St. James Methodist Church

#6: B

Opera Patio

#7: D

Baby Doe’s Furniture

#8: A

Face on the Barroom Floor

#1: G

The Musicians’ Balcony

The opera house was built in 1878 with stone from the area. It featured a musician’s balcony, which served as a space for open-air concerts. Rebuilt in the 1930s, the balcony is very difficult to access now with lots of climbing involved.

#2: F

Washington Hall

The oldest public building in Colorado, Washington Hall is also a National Historic Site. Built in 1862 from hand-hewn square logs, it served as the first Gilpin County Courthouse. It contains a jail and a large vault for minerals. Because Central City was once the center of a large mining region, the Hall’s tower was designed to look like a mine headframe (which housed part of the hoist to let miners down into the mineshaft and haul them and the ore they found back up to the surface). Washington Hall was also the Fire Station at one time, so the tower has a bell. At the ringing of this bell, volunteer firefighters would respond. Today, the Gilpin Arts Association uses the second floor of Washington Hall to feature the work of Colorado artists in their gallery.

#3: E

Penrose Complex

In the late-1940s, Julie Penrose bought these houses and later gave them to the opera company.  The wife of Spencer Penrose, a famous mining millionaire who built the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Julie loved Central City Opera. She gave generously to the company and—in addition to the Penrose complex of houses—also paid to build dressing rooms and guest restrooms at the opera house. The company owns dozens of historic properties in Central City. Every summer, many of these properties house the members of the company.

#4: H

Signboards

Since 1932, the design of the signboards (or billboards) on both sides of the front of the Opera House has remained the same (or as similar as possible). Signboards from previous seasons decorate many of the public areas that the company owns and a large collection are on display in the Stables. The signboards from 1956, the year in which The Ballad of Baby Doe premiered (Central City’s most famous commissioned opera), were stolen and have never been found.

#5: C

St. James Methodist Church

Completed by Cornish masons in 1872, this granite church is the oldest Protestant church in Colorado.  By October 1871, a spectacular sanctuary on the second floor was nearly complete with the installation of magnificent art glass windows and the walnut pews. The following month services in the new sanctuary commenced, but the dedication was delayed until summer with a celebration on July 21, 1872. St. James features a rare Steere & Sons pipe organ that was installed in 1899.

#6: B

Opera Patio

The site on the uphill side of the opera house was originally a church and then Henry Teller’s Law Office. The law office was moved across Eureka Street between the Stables and Washington Hall and tents were pitched on this site during production season. Until the Cast House was built in the late-1940s, the chorus had no dressing rooms and used the space in the tents to dress and put on makeup. Today, the Opera Patio serves as a patron area with old-fashioned drinking fountains.

#7: D

Baby Doe’s Furniture

Baby Doe lived in Central City for a short time with her first husband Harvey Doe.  She even worked in his mine (and was possibly the first woman in the area to work in a mine). After marrying Horace Tabor, Baby Doe lived at Windsor Hotel in Denver and some of Baby Doe’s furniture from the Tabor’s suite in the Windsor is housed in Central City’s Teller House now.  Baby was a very small woman and had her furniture built so that her feet would touch the floor.

#8: A

Face on the Barroom Floor

Painted in 1936 by Herndon Davis, a Colorado artist, the inspiration for The Face on the Barroom Floor was a famous poem of the same name from 1887. In the poem, the artist laments his lost love named Madeline and, upon painting her image on the floor, he falls dead across her portrait.  Central City Opera commissioned a short opera with yet a different story (but still sad) about the famous Face that was performed Teller House Bar every year for more than 20 years.