The southwest Louisiana town of Crowley is known for rice farms and Cajun music, and is an unlikely place to find a century old opera house. After being abandoned, the old theater has been restored and is once again featuring classical music.
The Grand Opera House of the South is not where you’d expect
The southwest Louisiana town of Crowley is known for rice farms and Cajun music. And is an unlikely place to find a century-old opera house. After being abandoned, the old theater has been restored and is once again featuring classical music.
More than a century ago, a young man named Dave Lyons had a vision for making Crowley a center for theatre. With his own $18,000, he built what he called the “Grand Opera House of the South,” and brought vaudeville, theatre, and classical music to the Cajun prairie.
The Grand Opera House had performances from numerous famous opera singers such as Enrico Caruso, Clark Gable, and the Paris Opera. L.J. Giellen, a donor for the opera house, first saw the house when it was being used for storage for a hardware store.
With the help of civic groups and volunteers, the Grand Opera House of the South reopened its doors in 2008. After raising $4.5 million in fundraising. Everything was restored and remastered—including the grand staircase to the balcony and second floor—and the view is simply astounding. In comparison to old pictures, the theatre looks almost exactly like it did when it was open in 1901.
The Grand Opera House of the South used to pride itself on being the biggest opera house between New Orleans and Houston. One of the coolest parts? Many of the famous performers left their mark on the walls.
Since its opening, performers have signed a wall behind the stage. From baseball legend Babe Ruth to performers today, people have signed this wall for over 100 years.
Kimberly Gattle, executive director of the opera house, says “it’s unassuming. You don’t believe that there’s something so beautiful in this old building.”
Check out the Grand Opera House of the South!