ALLEN’S OPERA HOUSE (1ST THEATER) - 1874
Abner E. Allen opened his first Opera House on September 3rd, 1874. The Opera House was located on the south side of Third Street near Spring Street. The Opera House was a frame structure 100 Feet by 60 Feet, 22Ft high and had a seating capacity of 1500. A local amateur company, the Y.B.Y.L. Club, dedicated the House with presentations on September 3rd, 4th and 5th. In ensuing years prominent lecturers from across the country and musical, dramatic, minstrel, variety and miscellaneous entertainment of every description appeared at the Allen Opera House.
A fire destroyed the Allen opera House on Third Street on the morning of January 12th, 1881. The uninsured house was a $12,000 loss (A loss of $272,810 in 2017).
ALLEN’S OPERA HOUSE (2ND THEATER) - 1894
Abner E. Allen built a new structure on Second Street between Pine Street and Potters Alley. He never recovered financially from a devastating fire of the structure on Third Street in 1894.
SAMUEL’S OPERA HOUSE - 1898
In 1898 Ebner E. Allen sold the theater on Second Street to Charles Samuels, who continued the established tradition of excellence.
SHEA’S THEATER - 1919
In 1919, the Samuels Opera House was acquired by the Shea interests of New York City, and after extensive and elegant refurbishing operated as Shea’s Theater. Vaudeville presentations were soon overtaken by motion pictures.
LITTLE THEATRE OF JAMESTOWN - 1969
Little Theatre of Jamestown purchased the property in 1967 and dedicated the theater on April 19, 1969. A famous actor of the heyday of movies, Mr. Walter Abel, was hired to perform at the formal dedication. A new era had begun for the Little Theatre.
LUCILLE BALL LITTLE THEATRE OF JAMESTOWN - 1991
In 1989 Mr. Robert Ostrom, President of the Board of Directors talked with Lucille Ball and requested she allow us to rename the theatre; Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown in her honor. She graciously consented, but passed away before the actual ceremony. Her daughter, actress Lucie Arnaz consented to attend the dedication.
A formal ceremony was held on May 24th, 1991. Lucie Arnaz and her entire family attended the auspicious event. A plaque was presented to Mrs. Arnaz expressing the appreciation of the entire community of having Jamestown’s most famous alumni forever associated with this wonderful edifice.
The Lucille Ball Little Theatre is one of the nation’s finest community theaters, it continues the high cultural tradition.
FAMOUS ARTISTS WHO HAVE PERFORMED IN THE PAST
Among the outstanding artists who have appeared in the building that houses the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown, were James O’Neill (father of Eugene O’Neill), W.C. Fields, Lillian Russell, Eva Tanguay, June Havoc and Gypsy Rose Lee as the child star team of “Dainty June and Company”, Thelma Ritter, Boris Karloff, Ralph Bellamy, John Philip Sousa, Madame Schuman-Heinck, Gertrude Ederle, and the Pauline MacLean Stock Company. The orchestra pit could hold ten musicians.