Built in 1881 by Al Schieffelin,
Tombstone's founder, Ed Schieffelin, and William Harwood,
Schieffelin Hall was envisioned as a first class opera house, offering
culture to the citizens of
Tombstone for the first time. The hall
opened in June to grand applause as the largest and most imposing building
as well as the largest adobe building anywhere in the Southwest. The
seating capacity provided for almost 600 people. On June 8, 1881, the
Epitaph described it: "From top to bottom, it is by far the most complete
edifice of its kind in the Territory."
The building also housed the King Solomon Masonic Lodge #5,
one of the five founding Masonic Lodges in
Arizona, a role it continues to
The beautiful building, funded by taxes from those
businesses attracting sin and vice, hoped to attract touring theatrical
companies. The two-story hall displayed the largest stage in any theatre
between Denver and San Francisco. Finally, those "respectable” people that
wouldn’t dream of setting foot in the only other theatre in town – the
Bird Cage, had a venue that they could be proud of.
It’s first major use was when the Irish Land Leauge held
the first ball there on June 17th, that was attended my the
society. It’s first theatrical production was "The Ticket-of-Leave Man"
on September 15th given by the
Dramatic Association. The first professional company to appear at the hall
was the Nellie Boyd Dramatic Company of New York who presented "The
Banker's Daughter" on December 5, 1881.
immediately became the center of cultural activity in the otherwise wicked
town, continuing to provide a venue for theatrical performances, dances,
boxing matches, recitals, lectures, and a community meeting place for the
next 25 years.
Morgan Earp attended a performance of "Stolen Kisses"
Schieffelin Hall, before moving on to Campbell & Hatches Saloon. There,
Morgan would be shot down by members of the
Cowboy faction in revenge for
his participation in the Gunfight at the
early 1900’s the hall was showing the new "moving” pictures, as well as a
few scattered productions. But
Tombstone's heydays were over and for the
next half century, the hall would be used only by the Masonic Lodge as it
gradually fell into disrepair with the rest of the once booming town.
However, in September, 1963, the building was purchased by
organization formed to preserve and restore many of the town's fabled
landmarks, who restored and renovated the historic
building before later donating it to the City of
Tombstone. On October 15, 1966, it was
placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the building is
used primarily for City Council meetings, but also continues to be used
for social gatherings, fundraisers and theatric performances.
Continued Next Page
of America, updated March, 2013.
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