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
“The swelling musical strains of Wineland’s orchestra entertained the large and fashionable audience before the rise of the curtain at the Marvin opera house last night. A more representative gathering never sat before the footlights than assembled at the Marvin to witness the first presentation of that beautiful and justly popular exhibition, ‘The Carnival of Nations.’
“When the orchestra had finished its third classical selection, Hon. E.T. Dunn stepped upon the stage and in a brief, but most fitting address, introduced the audience to the carnival. He paid a glowing tribute to Mrs. Harriet Detwiler and the other lady managers of the Home and Hospital for their untiring service in the interest of the hospital and urged the citizens of the city of Findlay to do their part in aiding the courageous ladies in helping to defray the expenses arising from the construction of the new building that is to replace the one that was unfortunately lost through a destructive fire.
“When Mr. Dunn had concluded, the curtain was drawn and there was presented to view a magnificent Pyramid of 250 dazzlingly beautiful women and gallant men from all the nations of the earth and from fairy land.”
Thus began the story in the old Morning Republican on the morning of June 29,1900 that described the opening performance of a home talent production that eclipsed all previous efforts of that nature in the history of the local community. It was truly a brilliant event in the dramatic area and represented the climax of long plans on behalf of a movement to help finance the erection of a new hospital, after the disastrous fire of the previous fall that had left the city without hospital facilities.
There were 10 elaborate scenes, laid in various countries. The advertisement preceding the presentation spoke of the affair in these terms: “gorgeous costumes, dazzling tableaux, festival scenes, waving forests, falling flowers, weird pantomime.”
The whole affair was under the direction and guidance of a firm which made a business of such productions, traveling from city to city and furnishing the scenery and costumes.
There were three presentations, two at night and one a matinee. It was necessary to postpone the initial performance one night due to non-arrival of some of the scenery.
The Republican’s article with regard to the opening performance continued as follows:
“Towering above the mass of gorgeously attired men and women stood the queen of the carnival, Mrs. George P. Jones in all her regal beauty and splendor.
“The scene was changed and the audience was carried into the beautiful throne room of the queen of the carnival where were assembled with all her beauty amid the chivalry of her royal court.
“A guest at the queen’s court was Mrs. Charles Jordan as Marie Antoinette. At the queen’s right hand sat her maid of honor, Miss Brenda Fischer, and assembled around the queen were her court ladies, Mrs. T.H. Vyse, Mrs. A.C. Miller, Mrs. Fred Whiteley, Mrs. J.W. Kirkbride, Mrs. Victoria Young and Mrs. Frank P. Blackford, all dressed in royal splendor and magnificence.
“Then soft strains of music of the long ago was wafted over the dazzling scene as powdered dames in rich satin and velvet and dashing gallants in satin shimmer came slowly gliding into the royal court room, tripping through the minuet, the courtliest of dances with its graceful courtesies and harmony of movement. As the royal minuet closed, the royal court soloist, Reginald Snyder, stepped before the queen and sang a beautiful song truly in keeping with this royal scene of wondrous beauty and splendor.”
E.T. Dunn, who opened the home-talent production with a brief statement, was a prominent Findlay attorney who also was a gifted orator and much in demand as a public speaker. He was a veteran of the Civil War. The Dunn home stood where the present Elks’ home is situated.
The Marvin opera house, where the production took place, was almost new at the time of the show. It had been erected and opened in the mid-1890s. Willis Marvin was the manager at the time “The Carnival of Nations” was presented.