Amusement Opportunities, 1920's
Opera House, Carol and Dwight Myers
Amusement Hall and Gym, Amusement Hall and
Gym, Carol and Dwight Myers Collection, NMSU
In 1910, the Dawson Opera House was the largest theatre in New Mexico. The
Manager of the Opera House was George W. Murdock, followed by T.L. Kinney,
a lawyer and later, a Judge. The seating in the Opera House was listed as
800 Orchestra seats, 200 Balcony seats including 30 boxes which held 6
people. The average prices were: Orchestra, $1.50 ($1.50 in 1920 = $35.10
in 2010); Balcony, $1.00 ($23.40 in 2010); Plus, Admission, 50 cents for
Children ($11.70 in 2010), and 75 cents for Adults ($17.55 in 2010). The
prices were the highest in the state of New Mexico.
The Opera House, was home for the Theatre, a Billiard Hall, Bowling Alley,
a Ballroom, Banquet Rooms, Lodge meeting rooms, and offices for the
Welfare Department of the Phelps Dodge Corporation, which directed the
social welfare of the entire town. The Lodge and banquet rooms were on the
The Theatre, located on the first floor, followed the French model of
commercial movie houses and was very modern for its time. From 1921 to
1926, movies as well as plays, operas, and other events were held in the
building, including carnivals, circuses and fighting events.
Early silent movies were often accompanied by live piano or organ music.
In 1923 commercially distributed film began to include a synchronized
sound track, but it would be seven years before talking pictures gained
supremacy and finally replaced the silent era.
Dancing was also a popular past time in the Ballroom. The Dawson newspaper
for 1923 indicated that there were many dances held at the Opera House. It
also showed that the Lodges for: the Knights of Pythias. the Sisters of
Pythias, Moose, Elks, Masons and Eastern Star, and others used the
facilities for their meetings, banquets, dances and other events.
The Manager of the Opera House, in 1930 was William Cook.
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