Historic Preservation

Opera House with Crowd“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.