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Delphi Opera House in Delphi, Indiana

Delphi Opera House in Delphi. Indiana
Delphi Opera House in Delphi. Indiana

The Delphi Opera House in Delphi, Indiana  was once the hub of social entertainment.

More than just great architecture, this Delphi, Indiana landmark is a very unique link to the past.

Delphi Opera House in Delphi, Indiana

Built back in 1865, the Opera House is actually located on the third floor. Climb two very steep flights of stairs made with hoop skirts in mind. It was used more as an event hall than anything else.

It wasn’t until the floor was built up with risers twenty years later that the Delphi Opera House became the place to be! So much so, in fact, that performers came from all over–even James Whitcomb Riley!

The famed poet was struck with inspiration after visiting a pond in Delphi that he had to write a poem about it. You may already be familiar with The Old Swimmin’ Hole.

As you can see from the photo, visiting performers left their mark on the place. Literally. Actors and actresses signed their names along the back wall behind the stage, sometimes drawing pictures. Self portraits, perhaps? Occasionally they scribbled in the date (which I love). Unfortunately, no one has found James Whitcomb Riley’s name yet. Will you?

Delphi, Indiana Opera House History

Delphi Opera House in Delphi. Indiana
Delphi Opera House in Delphi. Indiana

Once upon a time, the connecting building was a hotel that the various performers used to get ready before hopping over to go onstage. The old door has long since been bricked over and the building next door is now an upper level apartment.

The Opera House managed to stay in business, competing against, I believe, two others in Delphi, until 1915 when the place was shut down. A third floor Opera House with only one way out does not make for a safe place in case of fire! The Opera House fell into a state of decay and was mainly used as storage.

As you can probably tell from my Images from Delphi Opera House in Delphi, Indiana article, this place is really in need of renovation. Fortunately, the Delphi Preservation Society has come to the rescue, receiving grants and donations to recreate or save many of its amazing features, and bring it back to its former glory.

Go There

Delphi Opera House in Delphi. Indiana
Delphi Opera House in Delphi. Indiana

There are so many reasons to head to this small Indiana town–the Opera House is a must see attraction!

You can be sure that little Indiana is going to keep tabs on this one.

Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is little Indiana!

Find pictures in Indiana on my Flickr photostream or on the new little Indiana Tumblr blog.

Just don’t forget to tell ’em that  little Indiana sent you!

Delphi Opera House
109 S Washington Street
Delphi, Indiana 46923

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About Jessica Nunemaker

Jessica Nunemaker is the Owner of little More than a website, little Indiana is a PBS segment on the state-wide program "The Weekly Special," a bi-weekly column in a local newspaper, and soon to be a book! Look for "little Indiana: Small Town Destinations" published by Indiana University Press in early 2016--just in time for Indiana's BIG 200th Birthday Celebration.

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  1. Jessica Nunemaker

    Thanks Kathy! :) What a neat place to grow up!

  2. I love this site – I grew up in the opera house building as it was my dads drugstore so I love following what they are doing. I am a life enrichment coordinator for an independent living facility in Lafayette and this site will be great to help find fun places – just need to work my way around the site – hank you for that!!!

  3. Jessica Nunemaker

    @Doug I’m not sure I agree that the small town is past its heyday — I’ve visited plenty that have grown in leaps and bounds!

    @Paul There is nothing better than cider! I’ll have to check it out in the Fall. Thanks for the heads up! I hope, hope, hope she’s still making it!!!

  4. Thanks for the posting about Delphi. Delphi is my home town (I grew up there from 9 mo. to college) but I haven’t been back since the family all died out. I remember the Opera House as a kid as being this creepy, haunted place full of stuff covered with sheets. We used to get the key from a woman on the second floor (who shall forever remain anonymous since everyone worried about toxoplasmosis) and wander around.

    Your website is marvelous. Small town Indiana is way past its heyday — which was probably 1855-1885 or so — but there is so much evidence of history from that period has survived that hasn’t in the cities and suburbs. New England values the 1600s, Virginia the 1700s… but the Gilded Age is lost most places, but not all.

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