EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.
By R.L. HEMINGER
There have been four theaters constructed in the city of Findlay over the years, designed exclusively for live entertainment. Two of them saw the introduction of movies later on. The four have been the Davis, the Turner, the Marvin and the Majestic, and latter the Harris.
For the next few weeks we will take a look at the history of these four places of entertainment, starting with the old Turner Opera House, located in the 400 block on West Main Cross Street. The Capital Tire Shop is now in the old Turner location.
The Turner was not the first, but the second. The first was the Davis Opera House, built in 1876. This was on South Main Street between Front and Main Cross streets on the west side. The Turner followed 14 years later.
The data for the accounts of the various opera houses comes from the late Donald E. Smith, of Findlay, who, as an avocation, read the files of the old Morning Republicans for a number of years following the start of the newspaper as a daily in 1886. He collected much valuable information with regard to the old theaters in Findlay. The Davis Opera House opened a decade earlier and at the conclusion of the series now starting, there will be facts about the Davis as well from other sources.
The Turner Opera House was constructed on West Main Cross Street in 1890, a few years ahead of the Marvin which was built later in the 1890s on North Main Street. The Turner Opera House was built by the Turner Society, an organization of individuals of German descent for social and self-betterment purposes. After conducting the opera house for some years, the society later sold the property and built a new hall, situated on Meeks Avenue, just west of Main Street on the south side of Meeks. The new hall was not an opera house, but contained meeting quarters and physical culture facilities for the members.
The Turner Society purchased a property of Mike Edelman in late April, 1890 on West Main Cross Street for its hall and opera house. The building which went up was 50-by-157 feet in dimensions. The hall had 900 opera seats and a balcony around both sides, seating several hundred people. The stage had a 24-foot opening, accommodating a 40-foot drop.
The dedication of the opera house took place Dec. 30,1890. An elaborate program marked the dedicatory exercises. Dr. A. H. Linaweaver, Findlay physician and surgeon, made an artistic drawing of the building. Across the front of the building was an inscription, “A Strong Mind in a Strong Body.” Above was this inscription “Findlay Turn-Verein,” the latter words being the German name of the society.
The building of the Marvin Theater in the mid 1890s on North Main Street cut into the Turner’s entertainment business sharply. Until then, many attractions appeared on the Turner stage and the opera house was highly popular.
The Turner Society late in the 1890s sold the property to Jacob Kuebeler, of Sandusky, of the Kuebeler-Stang Brewing Co. He immediately began to change the nature of the structure and rented two rooms which fronted on West Main Cross Street, one to the Denision, Karg and Schlee Meat Market and the other to A. L. Askam, grocer, who had the east room. The single large room which made up the interior originally was divided into first and second stories. The two rented rooms occupied the lower floor, the former being 80-by-50 feet in dimensions. The club room was at the rear of the stage.
Mr. Kuebeler made known that he also had bought property in 1900 just west of the opera house. He built a 60-foot front block there.
The Glessner Co., manufacturers of proprietary medicines, then a very young Findlay concern, leased quarters on the second floor of the former opera house for its business. Eventually, the medicine company occupied all the top floor, in addition to space in the basement.
The Morning Republican in its June 15, 1903, edition, described the Glessner firm “as an example of one of the most remarkable successes in business here.” At that time the company had been operating only three years. L. C. Glessner was the head of the firm.
Next week: More about the old Turner Opera House.