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The Grand Opera House Wilmington Delaware

Posted on: June 30, 2016



Wilmington’s Grand Opera House was built in 1871 – definitely older than most Retro Roadmappy places. But Mod Betty has had a soft spot for vintage theatres ever since she stepped into Boston’s Orpheum Theatre in 1982, so this “The Grand Old Lady of Market Street” fits right in.

The Grand Opera House Wilmington DE Retro Roadmap

Originally build as a Masonic temple and auditorium for live music and stage shows, like many theatres it made the transition to showing movies starting in the early 1900s. It remained primarily a movie house until it closed in 1967. Happily the theatre was reopened in 1972 with an emphasis on live classical music, the same year it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, just a year past her 100th birthday.

Now commonly referred to as The Grand, it is not only a place for symphonies and ballet, but its 1200+ seats are now filled with folks seeing touring jazz and rock bands, comedians and local entertainment throughout the year.

The Grand Wilmington DE Retro Roadmap

Surprising and notable fact about the theatre is that the facade is made of cast iron, and considered to be “one of the finest remaining examples of cast iron architecture in America” according to the Historic American Buildings Survey. The sloped mansard roof, columned center entrance and arched windows are elements of the French Second Empire style that was popular at the time.

In times where so many older venues are dark, The Grand is a beacon in the night, drawing people to Market Street for almost 150 years.

Mod Betty Says: Look at the pediment for a giant eyeball – that’s the Masonic “Eye of Providence”!!

Grand Opera House Wilmington DE Retro Roadmap

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  • Jane C

    I saw Debbie Reynolds here in 1989 performing The Unsinkable Mollie Brown.. It’s a beautiful theater. Living in Boston for awhile, I love the Orpheum too!!

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