Thornton House Furniture honored with historic plaque | New


Lively discussions filled the air as residents lined the sidewalk outside Thornton House Furniture on Saturday morning to witness the unveiling of a plaque by the Lodi Historical Society recognizing the former Lodi Opera House.

The bronze plaque was mounted near the front doors of Thornton House.

“We are here today to celebrate the architectural and cultural heritage of this property, the first purpose built performance hall in Lodi,” said Loren Perry, president of the Lodi Historical Society.

Lodi businessman Charles Lever Van Buskirk presented the Lodi Opera design with the aim of promoting music, cultural gatherings and theatrical performances for the small farming community of Lodi.

The opera house was built in 1905 by local builders Ed and Fred Cary in an Italian Revival style, adorned with exposed brickwork that enveloped the exterior of the building.

“The total cost of construction was $ 32,000, which would be just under $ 1 million today,” said Lisa Craig, member of the Lodi Historical Society. “The original 64 x 95 building was designed with a lower floor for professional use, an auditorium on the second floor and a basement. “

The Lodi Opera House was built to accommodate 900 people in the performance hall, with an L-shaped balcony above the seats at the mezzanine level.

“Based on physical evidence today, the theater had a platform stage. An orchestra pit may have been present, but as the volume of space on the second floor of the building shows, important seats made up the lower chamber that ran under the gallery, ”Craig said.

The opera was the scene of piano recitals, Shakespeare’s plays, operas, ragtime minstrel performances, concerts, graduation ceremonies, dances, orations, hypnotist and plays theater in elementary school.

“On its opening night, Thursday, January 26, 1905, the Tivoli Opera Company of San Francisco performed the opera comedy ‘King Dodo’. There were 650 people in attendance at this opening show, ”said Craig.

The excitement for opera died down in 1913 when movies became the new source of entertainment.

“The opera house officially closed in 1914. In 1919 Newfield and Sons Merchandise occupied the building until 1988 when Thornton House moved from Stockton to Lodi,” said Perry.

Since 1905, the building at 6 S. School St. has been a mainstay of the downtown business district, according to Perry.

“This retail space has served as an anchor for other small retailers occupying the adjacent downstairs retail space over the years,” said Perry.

Mayor Mark Chandler recognized the architectural and cultural significance of the building, which made historic downtown Lodi a draw for visitors and residents.

“The opera house may have had a limited period of use as an entertainment venue, but its contribution as a primary activity to our historic downtown area is ongoing,” Chandler said.

The Historical Society said the recognition of the opera is the first in a long series of projects planned for the near future.

“We hope that a building will be recognized every year,” said Craig.

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