If these walls could talk, they’d sure have some Wild West stories to tell. There’s no better way to get in touch with Nevada’s Old West roots than a visit to a historic opera house that’s been part of the Eureka story since the very beginning. Situated in the heart of Eureka’s Historic District, discover one of the best-preserved performing venues in the Silver State at the Eureka Opera House.
History of the Eureka Opera House
Once silver was discovered in the high-desert terrain east of Austin, the race was on, giving rise to Eureka damn near overnight. Within a few short years, thousands of people came to Eureka forming a downtown district that stands today exactly as it was built in the mid-1860s. Along with a school, newspaper, post office, hotels, a courthouse, and countless saloons, a benchmark of a proper frontier town was its entertainment hall. In 1880, the downtown district’s crown jewel, the 300-seat Eureka Opera House, was christened with a masquerade ball on New Year’s Eve.
From there, a series of regular live performances and events were held at the Eureka Opera House, including plays, masquerade balls, dances, operas, concerts, and other beloved social events. Motion pictures were introduced in 1915, when the Opera House was renamed the Eureka Theater, starting with silent movies and eventually “talkies,” the nickname given to films, once the technology was available to merge moving pictures with spoken lines. Films continued to be shown regularly until 1958 when the historic venue closed. The Eureka Opera House was closed for three full decades, until a grant from the Commission for Cultural Arts provided a long overdue historic preservation in 1993. Ever since, the Eureka Opera House has welcomed visitors from around the world and serves as the Cultural Arts Center of Eureka.
Visiting the Eureka Opera House
The Loneliest Road Survival Guide is what brings most people over the threshold of the Eureka Opera House, but is open to all visitors just about any day of the week. Inside, a self-guided tour will take you to the original 1924 hand-painted stage curtain, along with a permanent fine arts collection in the basement, featuring autographed photos of performers from around the world who’ve graced the Eureka Opera House stage. Aside from the impressive collection of photos, pay attention to the performer-signed walls—you never know whose John Hancock you might come across. Sharing the role of unofficial welcome center with the Eureka Sentinel Museum up the street, the Eureka Opera House also offers all kinds of brochures and visitor guides, as well as tips from locals on things to see and do along the Loneliest Road in America.
In addition to being a cultural arts center, Eureka, Nevada’s Opera House serves as a space for convention and meeting facilities. The auditorium accommodates 300 people theater style, and 150 people seated at banquet tables. The unique horseshoe-shaped balcony is one of three in Nevada—and not too many elsewhere—and aside from some incredible photos and even more memorable performances, makes the venue a perfect place for large banquets, conventions, theater and other live events.
The Eureka Opera House is open during most regular business hours, from Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and sometimes closed to the public during the lunch hour. For more information on planning your visit to the Eureka Opera House, be sure to call ahead of your visit at (775) 237-6006.
Ticket prices vary between the many kinds of live performances that take place at the Eureka Opera House. However, no admission is required to tour the historic Eureka Opera House on non-event days.