Ripley Opera House

Ripley Opera House

Ripley Opera House is named after patron William Y. The architectural legacy, built in 1881, is closely associated with the history of Rutland.An original building, built in 1868 and named Ripley Music Hall, was destroyed by fire in 1876.In 1881, General Edward Ripley — son of William Y. Two stone plaques, engraved with the symbol of music and drama, rest on the upper front corners of the building.Ripley Opera House contains a theater, with excellent acoustics, on an upper floor. Eventually the theater was adapted for silent motion pictures.Nowadays, Ripley Opera House is used as retail and office space.

The Haskell Free Library and Opera House is a 400-person capacity historical arts facility on the border of the United States and Canada. The stage of the facility is in the town of Stanstead in the province of Quebec in Canada, while the audience sits in Derby Line village in the state of Vermont in the U.S. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House also has two addresses, and phone lines for both countries. It has a dressing room, fly space, green room, loading dock, movie screen and projection facility, and an orchestra pit as well, according to Creative Ground. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House supports the cultural needs of communities on either side of the border, hence performances can be viewed in either English or French.

The design of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House was created by local Stanstead architect James Ball and his partner, Gilbert Smith, who was from Boston. Its cornerstone was laid on October 15 th , 1901, by Colonel Horace Stewart Haskell and members of Stanstead’s Golden Rule Lodge with help from well-known Masons from either side of the U.S.-Canada border. Construction was overseen by Nathan Beach, a contractor from Georgeville, Quebec, and after several delays its construction was completed in 1904 at a cost of about $50,000, a huge sum at that time. The Haskell Free Library and Opera House is classified as a historic site by the Canadian, the United States', and Province of Quebec's governments.


In Sacramento the 11,000 volts AC power was transformed down to a lower voltage near where it was needed for use. The Folsom Powerhouse was one of the first examples of significant electrical power being generated and economically shipped to where it could be used. Hydroelectric power had been demonstrated as a viable source of economical power despite being located a significant distances from the users. The Folsom Powerhouse is located 23 miles (37 km) above Sacramento on the American River in the city of Folsom.

The power station remained in operation until 1952 when the original Folsom dam across the American River was destroyed to make way for the new much larger Folsom Dam. The powerhouse was shut down after 57 years of continuous operation. Pacific Gas and Electric, who bought the original hydroelectric plant in 1902, donated the plant and most of its equipment to the State of California when the new Folsom Dam and hydroelectric plant was built. The State of California designated the site as California Historical Landmark Number #633. [3] The 35-acre (14 ha) historic park was established in 1956. [4] The powerhouse was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1981. [2] The two-story brick and granite Powerhouse looks much as it did in 1895. Its imposing generators, and the Tennessee marble-faced control switchboard stand as imposingly as they did more than a hundred years ago. Historic photos, interpretive exhibits and docent guided tours by the California State Park Service explain how the powerhouse worked. Some of the original water turbines, generators, etc. are still in place. [5] [6]

Before AC electric generators and the newly invented transformers were invented only DC electrical generators could be used to generate electrical power and they were restricted by their low voltage requirements to economically transmitting power for only a few miles. Too much power was lost in transmission at low voltage for long-distance power transmission to be practical. This meant the original power stations were restricted (at that time) to local steam generating plants built right in each local neighborhood. Pearl Street Station was the first central power plant in the United States. It was located at 255-257 Pearl Street in downtown Manhattan on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet (15 by 30 m), just south of Fulton Street. It began with one direct current generator powered by a coal burning steam engine, and it started generating electricity on September 4, 1882, serving an initial load of 400 incandescent lamps used by 85 customers located within about 2 miles (3.2 km) of the station.

However, with the advent of AC, there came the use of transformers to convert the generated power to a much higher voltage for transmission allowed the power plants and users to be separated by hundreds of miles if needed. The high voltage could then use transformers to obtain lower voltages for final use. Single point failures were minimized in the plant design. The AC generators and their associated water turbines were so large that they could not be shipped by rail and were shipped 19,000 miles (31,000 km) around Cape Horn by ship. Only two of the four alternating current generators were operating on July 13, 1895 when the powerhouse provided the first electricity to Sacramento via 22 miles (35 km) of transmission lines, making it one of the first places in the United States to transmit long-distance hydroelectric power. [7] The Folsom power plant predates Niagara Falls Adams power House generating AC electrical transmission for local use and shipment to Buffalo, New York in 1897. [8] The International Electro-Technical Exhibition - 1891 in Frankfurt am Main Germany demonstrated an earlier instance of long distance AC transmission of hydroelectric power. Westinghouse Electric Company and General Electric were in a race to develop better equipment and bring it to the United States.

The water for the original Folsom hydroelectric plant was obtained from a diversion dam, 650 feet (200 m) long, 24 feet (7.3 m) wide at the top 87 feet (27 m) wide at the bottom and 89 feet (27 m) tall, across the American River built in the 1890s. The dam diverted a large stream of water into a 2.5 miles (4.0 km) long diversion canal—the East Canal. This canal was 50 feet (15 m) wide and 8 feet (2.4 m) deep, carrying about 85,000 cubic feet (2,400 m 3 ) of water per minute. The canal paralleled the river but sloped much less steeply gradually getting about 85 feet (26 m) above the river. The dam and canal were completed in 1893 under the direction of Horatio Gates Livermore who originally thought to use the power of the falling water to power a sawmill. Livermore utilized in part contracted prison labor from the nearby Folsom State Prison to help build the dam and canal. The geometry of the canal forebay and the American River gave the Folsom power plant a Hydraulic head of water of about 85 feet (26 m) (about 70 feet (21 m) was usable) before its water was discharged back into the American River. Initially only about 35 feet (11 m) of this hydraulic head was used. The water from the canal ended in a forebay where water borne debris was separated from the water and it was fed into four large 8-foot-diameter (2.4 m) penstocks and two smaller penstocks. All penstocks had water gates that could be closed to turn the water off on any turbine for maintenance. The AC generators, some of the largest designed and built up to that time, were powered via four penstocks full of rushing water driving four large turbines.

The four large water turbines, some of the largest built up to that time, were made by S. Morgan Smith Works of York, Pennsylvania. There were two small penstocks plus turbines for the two DC generators.

Rushing water from the American River passing through four large water turbines powered the four AC generators and two more turbines powered smaller DC generators.

The four large turbines were connected directly to the alternating current generators and their speed controlled by adjusting the water flow, with a centrifugal governor, to obtain 300 shaft rpm—needed to generate a steady 60 cycle current.

History of the Ravenswood Christian Church

Some years before the Civil War, Ephriam Wells built a frame building on the north side of Sycamore Street to be used as a church. Wells was a friend of Alexander Campbell, the founder of Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. Campbell preached in this building and baptized some converts however, Wells sold his farm in 1866 and moved to t he General Early Farm in Putnam County. After the death of Wells, the frame building became a residence, and in 1936 the building was still being used for storage.

The Christian Church has been established in Ravenswood. Even without permanent quarters, the congregation continued to meet in halls and other churches. In the several decades following the Civil War, Ravenswood grew in size. Friends of the church wanted a new and up-to-date building to coincide with the growth the town was experiencing. Accordingly, a meet was called in March of 1895 at the Wells Opera House by Mr. J.A. Joyce, a student at Bethany College. Significantly, thirteen charter members formed a church at that meeting, organized a bible school on April 5, and resolved to build a new church on July 16.

Charter members included: H.B. Caldwell and wife, H.E. Heck and wife, Anthony Keller and wife, Esbia Wells and wife, William Milhoan and wife, Mrs. Mellisa McGugin, Isiola Saterfield, and Mrs. Agnes Devore. Caldwell was elected elder and Mrs. Devore secretary and treasurer.

Mr. and Mrs. Milhoan donated a lot. Mr. and Mrs. Esbia Wells gave money, Anthony and J.R. Keller provided bricks, and Mrs. Anna Brown contributed a large memorial window. On Dec. 29, 1895, a beautiful brick building was completed and dedicated. Thirty by fifty feet in size, the building had been completed in less than nine months from the organization of the church, and at a total cost of $3,300.

Keller served for over fifty years as elder of the congregation and superintendent of the bible school. His influence and memory still are a part of the heritage of the church. During much of the immediate past, the financial problems of the church were met with income provided for in the estate of C.E. Mason.

Faced with renewed opportunity and challenge in a growing community, the church decided to work together with the churches of the Disciples of Christ in West Virginia to better fulfill the work of the kingdom. As a result of the then resident pastor, B.J. Hannon, working with the congregation and foreseeing the needs of the community, a building program was proposed and undertaken. Joining the efforts of he local congregation with the support of other churches across the state, the present educational building was erected and decided on April 5, 1959.

The modern educational building and beautifully remodeled sanctuary parallel somewhat the accomplishments of a determined and purposeful congregation in 1895.

The &ldquoHistory of the Ravenswood Christian Church&rdquo was recently framed and hung in the museum at Washington&rsquos Riverfront Park as an acknowledgement of the special place the church and it&rsquos congregation hold in the history of Ravenswood.

The Cherry Sisters: Vaudeville’s Most Infamous Act

/> Ripley's Believe It or Not! &mdash November 16, 2020

As a touring vaudeville act in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Cherry Sisters sold out shows, but their success was matched only by their infamy. They sang, danced, played instruments, and recited poems and essays in over-the-top, dramatic performances, and they drew audiences who came to witness their obvious lack of talent. As the American Weekly once reported, “They began as the four worst professional actresses in the world and ended without improving one iota.”

“The thing is, people packed the theaters to go and see them,” says Darryl W. Bullock, author of The Infamous Cherry Sisters: The Worst Act in Vaudeville. “It was almost part of the entertainment for the night—to go and see how diabolically awful these girls would be.”

There are different stories out there as to why the Cherry Sisters started performing in the first place. But what is certain is that the personal lives of the five sisters were just as unfortunate as their professional lives were uncanny. At the same time, they unintentionally left behind an important legacy after suing two Iowa newspapers for libel in 1898 for a scathing performance review, resulting in a court decision that set a precedent in media law.

Now Presenting: The Cherry Sisters

Addie, Effie, Ella, Lizzie, and Jessie Cherry made their way to Marion, Iowa, with their parents in 1872. Their parents—father a painter, mother a housewife—had previously moved with them to several different states, having lost two children. As the story goes, both of their parents died by the time Jessie, the youngest, was 17 years old, and their brother Nathan ran away from home.

So, what drove the Cherry Sisters to take to the stage? Some accounts say they wanted to earn enough money for a trip to Chicago to attend the World’s Columbian Exposition. Others say they needed to make money to pay off the mortgage on their family farm.

Entertaining audiences on stage as a group was Effie’s idea. In 1893, the women, according to Bullock’s biography, decided to perform at the local Daniels Opera House—all five of them at the time—as a way to make money quickly, playing off their previous experiences in school and church productions. They made posters and eagerly posted them around their community.

Their first show started with a song from Effie, and then they all sang, danced, and played musical instruments such as the harmonica. Because the neighbors and friends in attendance politely applauded them (as to not insult them, Bullock says), the sisters thought they were simply marvelous, pocketing $100 in ticket sales and deciding that they were destined for the stage.

However, during their second performance—this one at a larger theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, starring only four of the five sisters—the audience didn’t hold back in expressing their true opinions, blowing tin horns and throwing various items at the sisters. In a scathing review, the Cedar Rapids Gazette wrote, “Their knowledge of the stage is worse than none at all, and they surely could not realize last night that they were making such fools of themselves.”

The sisters were incensed and demanded a retraction. According to Bullock’s biography, Addie ended up writing one herself, and the newspaper printed the “barely intelligible retraction”—full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. The sisters then accused the writer of making libelous claims. He was arrested, and the newspaper proposed an idea: Hold a theatrical trial at the local opera house and have the sisters perform for the jury. They did just that, and the writer was eventually found guilty and sentenced to marrying one of the sisters! Though, he didn’t actually serve his sentence.

With word of the latest incident spreading nationwide, the Cherrys began gaining attention across the country. And despite the negative press and reactions they faced, the sisters continued performing locally in front of such crowds. It’s unclear whether they took themselves seriously or were in on the joke.

“They’re developing this reputation of being comical, and they will leave [the] stage or the theater manager will pull down the curtain, close the curtain on them,” says Leo Landis, state curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa.

The women soon approached a vaudeville agent in Chicago, who recognized just how terrible (and so full of potential!) their performance was, with a strange ability to draw large crowds. The agent signed the sisters to tour through Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois. The curtain was about to open on their career, but they were becoming famous for the wrong reasons.

Harsh Reactions and Riots

While there were other vaudeville acts at the time that received negative treatment from their audiences, none of them lasted nearly as long as the Cherry Sisters, who continued selling out their shows, Bullock says. That may be because it became a tradition that wherever the Cherry Sisters performed, newspaper editors would review their show, and needless to say, their critiques weren’t positive in the slightest.

Promotional poster for The Sandow vaudeville act showing dancers, clowns, trapeze artists and dogs in costume.

The Cherry Sisters became the vaudeville act that people loved to hate. The sisters claim to have written their songs themselves, but most of their performances were based on songs that were already well known, Bullock says. When they tried to dance, they would “kind of hop around,” he adds. They performed short playlets, but they were “very overwrought, very dark, very weepy, lots of gnashing of teeth and wailing. Very, very over the top, completely ridiculous.”

“Very quickly, the Cherrys got this reputation of being so diabolically awful that people would go see them just to throw things at them, and they did,” Bullock says. “People would throw rotten fruit and vegetables they’d throw cigarette butts, cigar butts, overshoes. … They’d take their overshoes off and throw them on the stage.”

While the Cherry Sisters always denied it, legend has it that they sometimes performed behind a screen to avoid being hit by flying objects. Of course, in today’s world, the violence they faced would be viewed as outlandish, even frightening. Yet even at the time, some condemned how audiences responded and felt the sisters deserved a chance to perform. While The Davenport Daily Times in Iowa expressed hopes that the Cherry Sisters “will not be induced to make a second professional visit” to the city, they also wrote that their lack of talent “is no excuse for the rowdyism that characterizes the audiences at their engagements.”

Their awful performances elicited such strong reactions that in some cities, riots broke out in the audience. As detailed in Bullock’s biography, during an early performance in Dubuque, Iowa, the audience came armed with rotten eggs, cabbages, and other food items, some even carrying fire extinguishers and tin horns. At one point in the performance, Jessie was sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher and ran from the stage, her clothing soaked. A frustrated Effie then returned with a shotgun and pointed it at the audience, only to be hit by cabbages. The police and theater staff did little to stop what was happening.

Even when the show ended, men from the audience followed the Cherrys to their hotel, and policemen escorted the women inside. The chief of police felt compelled to charge the opera house manager a $14 fee for preserving order, and the Dubuque riot made national headlines. The city’s mayor declared that this was the most scandalous event the town had ever experienced.

“If the audience were annoying them, one of the girls would think nothing of brandishing a rifle and kind of pointing it at the audience and threatening them,” Bullock says. “It became riotous. And people would quite often try to break out of the audience.”

From the Midwest to New York

Word of the Cherry Sisters vaudeville act soon made its way to Oscar Hammerstein, a theater mogul who booked them at New York’s Olympia Music Hall in 1896 in an effort to save the venue from bankruptcy. “I’ve tried the best—now I’ll try the worst,” he reportedly said. When they arrived, a headline in The New York Times described them as “four freaks from Iowa” and “a spectacle more pitiable than amusing.”

Hammerstein’s Olympia Music Hall

Fortunately for the Cherry Sisters, and Hammerstein, their New York performance, lasting six weeks, brought financial success, and they earned about $500 a week. They performed an opening song written to the tune of “Ta ra ra Boom de ay,” followed by a singing solo by Jessie, a rendition of an Irish ballad by Lizzie and Addie, and a dramatic essay reading by Addie. They all then performed a skit titled “The Gypsy’s Warning.” Their lack of talent, on display to the big city, was something New Yorkers had never seen before. And, The New York Times reported, “It is sincerely to be hoped that nothing like them will ever be seen again.”

Critics went so far as to even criticize the sisters’ appearance. According to a 1979 article published in an Iowa history magazine, The New York Tribune reported upon their New York debut, “Miss Jessie narrowly escaped being pretty, but her sisters never were in any such danger.” Yet for Hammerstein, getting the Cherry Sisters to perform at the Olympia Theater paid off, as he was able to save the theater from bankruptcy. All the while, the sisters were bombarded with rotten vegetables on stage.

The Encyclopedia of Vaudeville references a 1910 description of the Cherry Sisters by Robert Grau in his The Business Man in the Amusement World, in which Grau notes, “There was, though, something approaching cruelty in the spectacle which these poor females presented, night after night, in exhibiting their crudities to howling, insulting audiences.”

Their lives seemed to parallel the title of their act through the years: “Something Good, Something Sad.”

Cherry v. Des Moines Leaderand Its Legacy

Upon the sisters’ return to Iowa, Billy Hamilton, editor of The Odebolt Chronicle in Iowa, printed one of the most scathing reviews of the Cherry Sisters’ act in 1898 after attending one of their performances:

Effie is an old jade of 50 summers, Jessie a frisky filly of 40, and Addie, the flower of the family, a capering monstrosity of 35. Their long skinny arms equipped with talons at the extremities, swung mechanically, and [soon] waved frantically at the suffering audience. Their mouths opened like caverns, and sounds like the wailing of damned souls issued therefrom. They pranced around the stage with a motion that suggested a cross between the “danse du ventre” and a fox trotstrange creatures with painted faces and hideous [demeanor]. Effie is spavined, Addie is knock-kneed and stringhalt and Jessie, the only one who showed her stocking, has legs with calves as classic in their outlines as the curves of a broom handle.

Three of the Cherry Sisters: Addie, Jessie, and Effie

Negative reviews were nothing new for the Cherrys, but this one, in particular, tugged at the heartstrings. Part of it was picked up and reprinted by the Des Moines Leader, so the sisters sued the two newspapers for libel, claiming $15,000 in damages for “false and malicious” information.

“The women saw it as a step too far,” Bullock says. “The kind of things that were being said about them in the papers were very, very cruel.”

The Iowa State Supreme Court eventually ruled against the sisters. The verdict read, “If ever there was a case justifying ridicule and sarcasm, it is the one now before us. According to the record, the performance given by the plaintiffs was not only childish but ridiculous in the extreme. A dramatic critic should be allowed suitable license in such a case. The public should be informed of the character of the entertainment, and the publication should be held privileged.”

The Iowa court also wrote in its opinion that a newspaper editor has the “right to freely criticize any and every kind of public performance,” so long as the review is not driven by what is called malice, or an intentional effort to injure another party. Just because a comment is grossly exaggerated, the judge said, doesn’t mean it’s unfair.

The concept of “fair comment” that arose from Cherry v. Des Moines Leader set an important precedent, and the landmark case was cited in legal cases for decades to follow. It was a loss for the Cherry Sisters but a triumph for the nation’s free press—and it ensures the sisters will go down in history for more than just their shows.

“I think the legacy of Cherry v. Des Moines Leader is that you do see the press is being allowed to print things,” Landis says, “that, if done without malice, and that are truthful, then it’s fair criticism.”

After the Curtain Closed

When Jessie died of typhoid fever in 1903, the sisters retired, making occasional comeback performances in the years following. “As terribleness, their skit is perfection,” Variety magazine commented in 1924. None of the sisters married, and Effie ran for mayor of Cedar Rapids—twice—on a platform that advocated for a 9 p.m. curfew. She lost both races.

Bullock compares the Cherry Sisters to acts on TV shows today like The X Factor or America’s Got Talent that are ridiculed by the audience and gain notoriety for their poor performances. The sisters may have been an early example of entertainment that was “so bad it was good.”

But reflecting on their legacy, Bullock also says the Cherrys were, in some ways, ahead of their time. “They were five women who were doing their own thing, and playing to their own rules. They did what they wanted to do,” he says. “They weren’t going to let men tell them they couldn’t do it.”

Still, to this day, the true motivations of the Cherrys remain a mystery. Did they intentionally put on horrible performances simply for the money, well aware of their lack of talent? Or did they actually think they were good at what they did, and that the negative reviews were unwarranted?

“I don’t think that the Cherry Sisters would have gone to the trouble of trying to sue different people if they weren’t taking themselves seriously,” Landis says.

On the other hand, Bullock says, “I believe they absolutely knew that they were a thing they were figures of fun and they exploited that,” pointing to the constant negative reviews in the press and the fact that their managers seemed to be completely in the know.

These are questions that, more than a century since their debut, we don’t really know how to answer. As a Des Moines Register reporter once wrote, “Either the Cherry Sisters are completely sincere and take themselves seriously, or they are the most accomplished actresses the world has ever known.”

Ripley Opera House - History

Welcome to the Fort Worth Yesterday photo pages. This is a historical photo gallery of photos taken in the Fort Worth area in the recent past, generally within the living memory of some of us. Hence the name Fort Worth Yesterday.
If you are interested in reprints or want to use photos for your book, brochure, movie, or other projects, email us for rates.

Readers' requested additions: Heights Theatre(Clover and Rosedale), Lone Star Drive-In restaurant(6500 Camp Bowie), Cowtown Drive-In(2245 Jacksboro Highway at River Oaks) Opera House Theater, 1849 Village on University.

This page last updated on March 12, 2014

See What's New How to navigate this site:

Click on a thumbnail photo to see the full image of your choice.
The sites are listed alphabetically by name.
Photos will open in a new browser window.

Don't miss the U.S.A. Yesterday page or the Gasoline Signs page for other travel and memorabilia sites not included here!

All photos Copyright © 1997, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2009 by John Cirillo unless otherwise noted.
Photo of Belknap Drive-In Copyright © 2003 by Donna Mitchell, used by permission.
Photo of KXOL Radio Station Copyright © 2004 by John Lewis Puff, used by permission.
Photo of original Sammies Bar-B-Q Copyright © 2005 by Richard Greer, used by permission.
Photos of Brim's Tavern, Masonic Lodge, Melody Shop, The Gables, Six Points Griddle, and
Beef Burger Stand which are noted as being submitted by Terry Grimes are
Copyright © 2005 by Terrance Grimes, used by permission.
Photos of Vivian Courtney's Restaurant sign, Mexican Inn, and Williams Ranch House Copyright © 2007 by Tim Riddle, used by permission.
Photos noted as being submitted by Stephanie Kyzer are Copyright © 2007 by Stephanie Kyzer, used by permission.
Stockyards photos noted as being submitted by Elaine Moore Lanmon are Copyright © 2008 by Elaine Moore Lanmon, used by permission.
Photos of the Poly Theater and Berry Bowl listed as by George Harvey are Copyright © 2007 by George Harvey, used by permission.
Photos listed as by Lisa Helbing are Copyright © 2009 by Lisa Helbing, used by permission.
Photos listed as by David Aldred are Copyright © 2009 by David Aldred, used by permission.
Photos listed as by Craig Howell are Copyright © 2009 by Craig Howell, used by permission.
Photos listed as by George Kelly are Copyright © 2009 by George Kelly, used by permission.
Photos listed as by Bridgett Stevens are Copyright © 2009 by Bridgett Stevens, used by permission.
Photos listed as by Susie Fitzgerald are Copyright © 2009 by Susie Fitzgerald, used by permission.
Photos of Mrs. Cox's Maple Shop are Copyright © 2012 by Michael Gingrich, used by permission.

All photos on this website are copyrighted.
Reproduction or copying in any form without permission is prohibited.

2013-02-06 added page for Mrs. Cox's Maple Shop on Belknap
2012-02-23 uploaded a new photo of the Cattlemen's Steak House in the Stockyards
2011-04-16 added page for Massey's Restaurant on 8th Avenue
2010-04-13 added page for Skillern's Drug
2010-02-13 added photo of Lino's Restaurant on Belknap
2009-12-20 Added photos for Richelieu Grill and Mason's Hobby Lobby
2009-11-02 Created a Dairy Queen page and added more DQ photos
2009-10-04 Added photos to the Inspiration Point and Stripling pages
2009-08-01 Added page for Fort Worth Zoo in the 1980s
2009-08-01 Added page for Original Mexican Eats Cafe
2009-07-15 Added page for Will Rogers Coliseum
2009-07-09 Added page for Arby's in Haltom City
2009-02-11 Added pages for Berry Theatre, and Vandervoorts Dairy
2009-02-10 Added another photo to the Berry Bowl page
2009-02-02 Added two photos to the Poly Theater page
2009-02-02 Added photos of Berry Bowl, T & C Center, Throckmorton South, and Haltom Jewelers, Houston at 6th
2009-01-19 Added page for Inspiration Point in Samson Park
2009-01-02 Added page for the 20th Street Drug Store, 1912
2009-01-02 Added page for the Camp Bowie Water Tower
2009-01-02 Added page for Jackalope
2009-01-02 Added page for Azle Theater
2009-01-02 Added photo to the Piggly Wiggly page
2009-01-01 Added more photos and text to the Browder Distributing page
2008-12-31 Added text and new photo to the Melody Shop page
2008-12-31 Added page for Apostolic Church
2008-12-31 Rescanned photos for the Roosevelt Service page
2008-12-17 Added a page for WSL on Throckmorton
2008-12-17 Added photo to the Ranch Style page

PAYNE COUNTY Historical Society

The Payne County Historical Society was reconstituted in 1980. Among its objectives was the preservation and communication of the history of the region and the Payne County Historical Review was born. Mary Jane Warde accepted the task as the first editor setting a publication standard that all subsequent editors have attempted to maintain.

Over the years an outstanding amount of research, memories, pictures, and stories have contributed in capturing the spirit and history of Payne County. As we continue this tradition, it is helpful to take a moment and review the vast repertoire of articles that have been contributed to this time.

The Board of Directors has set a goal of putting future and past Reviews on the internet with searchable functions. In the meantime, we offer a listing of articles published in the past. Additional information has been added to some titles to provide information regarding content. News and notes, messages from the Society, and other information that pertains to the history of the Society have been omitted from the listing.

Past copies of many of the Review are available and can be obtained for $5.00 each by ordering directly with Payne County Historical Society, P. O. Box 2262, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74076.

Index of Articles from past Payne County Historical Reviews, 1980-2019.

Ripley Opera House - History

Bishop, William Henry. History of Roane County, West Virginia, From the Time of Its Exploration to A. D. 1927. Spencer, West Virginia, W. H. Bishop, 1927c.
975.4365 B622.

Comstock, Jim. Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. Richwood, West Virginia, Jim Comstock, 1973.
975.4003 H259 v.5.

Crane, Phillip L. California County, Calhoun County or Roane County, West Virginia. s. l., Roane County Journal, 1997.
975.436 C891 Pam.

Cunningham, Dan. Murders of Roane and Jackson Counties. Charleston, West Virginia, n. p., 1931.
364.152 C973.

Flat Fork Baptist Church. Minute Books, 1850-1948. Flat Fork, West Virginia, Wooster, Ohio, Bell and Howell, 1979c.
Mi 50-16.

Historical Records Survey, West Virginia. Inventory of the County Archives of West Virginia, No. 44 Roane County, (Spencer). Division of Professional Service, Projects Works Administration, Charleston, West Virginia, West Virginia Historical Records Survey, 1941.
016.9754 R628.

Hopkins, M. A. C. History of Harper District. Ripley, West Virginia, Knightstep Imprints, 1995.
929.3 R628h.

House, John A. Pioneers in Roane County, West Virginia: Historical Notes on the Early Settlement of Reedy Valley, With Notice of Pioneers of Spring Creek and the West Fork. s. l., n. p., 1906.
975.436 H842.

Mylott, James P. A Measure of Prosperity, A History of Roane County. Charleston, West Virginia, Mountain State Press, 1984c.
975.436 M997.

Roane County Family History Committee, Roane County West Virginia Family History, 1989. Waynesville, North Carolina, Don Mills, Inc., 1990.
975.436 R628r.

Roane County Year Book and Almanac, 1921. Spencer, West Virginia, The Times Record, n. d.
525.5 R53.

Newspaper Clippings

"200 in County in Year 1830," Times Record, 5-25-1922.
"20th Annual Central West Virginia Oil and Gas Edition," Times Record, 12-26- 1940.
"Bicentennial Salute to Roane County," WV Hillbilly, 5-15-1976.
"Billion Dollar Subway System Travel Through Roane Co.," Times Record, 2-21- 1929.
"Bird's Eye View of Newton, WV," Roane County Reporter, 4-27-1989.
"Boat Yard Leading Industry in Roane's First Settlement," Parkersburg News, 5-5- 1963.
"Clio Post Office Scheduled to Close Friday," Times Record, 7-27-1989.
"D. Boone Pioneer of Roane County," Times Record, 12-6-1924.
"Dark side of Roane History," Times Record, 9-16-1926.
"Days of Harvesting Wheat in Roane Recalled," Roane County Reporter, 7-13-1989.
"Elbow Room is Plentiful in Roane," Beckley Post Herald, 10-6-1969.
"Ex-Salve Meets Misty a Last Time," Charleston Daily Mail, 4-26-1978.
"Famous Old Opera House of 1897 No More," Times Record, 3-8-1923.
"First Court House in 1858," Times Record, 7-6-1922.
"Gabe's Tree," Charleston Gazette, 2-16-1958.
"Ghost Town Reedy," Charleston Daily Mail, 5-27-1980.
"Giggling Tourists Figure Looneyville Wrong," Charleston Gazette, 10-29-1991.
"History of Roane County Schools," Times Record, 1-8-1925.
"History of the Oil and Gas Industry in Roane County," Times Record, 2-21-1929.
"Interesting Career of Editor Craig," Parkersburg News, 5-11-1940.
"Man Who Ran First Spencer Train Here," Times Record, 4-24-1922.
"More History About County," Times Record, 7-22-1922.
"Noted Italian Sculptor Establishes Studio in Roane," Times Record, 4-24-1980.
"People in Looneyville Talk to Each Other, Not Themselves," Charleston Gazette, 9-16- 1987.
"Pioneer Rode into Court Room About 1858..Escaped Through Flue," Times Record, 7- 16-1922.
"Ralph Nestor, A Lifetime Spent Compiling History," Times Record, 9-15-1988.
"Recalls Old Days Around Walton," Roane County Reporter, 6-9-1988.
"Reedy Expecting Big Crowd for Celebration," Parkersburg News, 9-24-1994.
"Reedy Struggling to Revive Prosperity of Former Days," Charleston Gazette, 12-8- 1982.
"Remembering Reedy," Times Record, 8-18-1994.
"Roane County Formed in 1856," Parkersburg News, 6-18-1963.
"Roane County Then and Now," Roane County Reporter/Times Record, 1968-1969.
"Roane Excited by Silver Diggings," Parkersburg News, 11-3-1968.
"Roane General Hospital a Matter of Survival," Charleston Gazette, 2-14-1999.
"Roane Court House 75 Year Old Landmark at Trail's End," Roane Co. Reporter, 7-30- 1964.
"Sam Tanner's Gravesite Remains a Mystery," Roane Co. Reporter, 10-6-1988.
"Scout Troop Has Library," Times Record, 7-21-1920.
"Settlers Had No Wheat Bread and Spun Own Cloth," Times Record, 5-15-1922.
"Settlers Made Home in Cave," Times Record, 5-11-1922.
"Some Early Residents of Roane County," Roane County Reporter, 11-7-1968.
"Spencer WV Chosen All-American City," Southern Living, May 1975.
"Squeezing the Puck, Roane Rubber Firm. " Charleston Daily Mail, 12-22-1976.
"Summary and Completion of Roane County History," Times Record, 7-27-1922.
"Teacher Came to Reedy 1830," Times Record, 6-1-1922.
"The Story of Roane County," Times Record, 6-12-1924.
"The Story Behind Roane's Record-Setting Well," Roane County Reporter, 5-30- 1991.
"The Walton Fair," WV Hillbilly, 1-16-1982.
"Theater Still Rolling After 86 Years," Charleston Gazette, 3-7-1993.
"Theater May Put Roane in National Historic Register," Roane County Reporter, 2-23- 1989.
"Three Forks Former Name for Reedy," Parkersburg News, 6-18-1963.
"Wells Opera House Robey's First Movie House Recalled," Parkersburg News, 11-28- 1968.

Medina: Where History Lives | Public Spaces

Village of Medina residents may notice something new as they enter their downtown. The village has erected five new signs at the entry-points of Medina’s Central Business District. However, they are not just any ordinary signs.

These smart-looking new signboards proclaim to all that they are entering Medina’s Downtown Historic District, one of the finest intact and preserved collections of historic downtown architecture anywhere. The contributing structures range in age from the Civil War era to the early Twentieth Century.

While the historic district has existed for many years, it is the first time the village has erected signs denoting its status. The district is understandably a point of great pride to its citizens.

Medina, New York is a quaint Victorian village, nestled on a wide bend in the Erie Canal where the canal traverses the Oak Orchard River. Incorporated in 1832, the village thrived and prospered, most significantly in the years following the Civil War.

Being home to many industries- furniture, foundries, and stone quarries, Medina boomed during the Gilded Age. During that boom, numerous impressive buildings appeared, many built of the now famous Medina Sandstone.

Commercial, residential, and ecclesiastical structures born of this great age earned Medina a well-deserved reputation as a beautiful, flourishing community of prospering businesses and grand homes.

Most of this historic architecture survives today and has been carefully preserved, most notably the collection of downtown commercial architecture. It is the envy of many communities.

"A fully intact 19th century downtown is rare, and we're fortunate to have one of the finest and best utilized examples anywhere." said Andrew Meier, Mayor of Medina.

"Downtown Medina is our answer to mass-scale urban sprawl. Despite our fantastic architecture, it's not a museum or historical facade. Its a living place where you can shop, interact, and feel connected. Few spots offer such an authentic American experience."

Meier is not only the mayor, he is also an etrepreneur who has invested heavily in Medina's historic preservation. Meier has rehabilitated an 1875 downtown hotel into law offices and retail space, with third floor loft apartments coming soon.

Many who have visited Medina echo Meier’s sentiments. An article posted in the Toronto Sun last May by George Bailey states:

“When you walk the historic downtown you can breathe in the smell of history. Their main street echoes of the nineteenth century. Tucked side by side are clusters of aging Medina Sandstone buildings that have changed little since they were constructed during the boom times of the 1830's -1900's.”

In a similar article published in the June 2011 edition of Buffalo Spree, writer Bruce Eaton has similar things to say about Medina:

“. those who want to spend a few hours soaking up some strong vibes from the Boom Years of Yore are well-advised to head east to the village of Medina. . With only a few modern buildings in sight, it’s possible to stroll up Main towards the canal and imagine that Grover Cleveland still resides in the White House.”

Indeed, Grover Cleveland did once stroll these streets. His young bride, Frances Folsom, resided for a time on the north end of Main Street. A historic marker identifies the residence.

Catherine Revelas was the former Executive Director of the Medina Chamber of Commerce when the village was considering a preservation ordinance. Revelas is also an active member of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Preservation League of NYS. She won’t admit it, but she was the driving force behind the adoption of that law, as well as Medina’s first Main Street façade renovation program. The results of her efforts are plainly visible today.

“When a community looks to the future and WORKS together great things can be accomplished. The Medina facade program was one of the most successful facade programs in New York State with 19 improved facades,” said Revelas.

Because of her efforts, the historic district today attracts businesspersons, entrepreneurs, and tourists alike who want to invest in and visit a place where history lives.

Said Revelas, “Medina has always been in my heart. I grew up on Main Street and was there every day hanging out because my Dad had a restaurant in there. When Urban Renewal came along, how wise of the leaders of Medina at the time to reject it! Thus, today a beautiful Main Street honoring mid-nineteenth architecture.”

The collection of buildings in the Downtown Historic District appear on both the National and New York State Registries of Historic Places. One needs only stand at any place along the wide thoroughfare and see why- a stunning collection of nineteenth century Italianate buildings built of brick and sandstone in a thriving business district. It is truly is a slice of genuine Americana.

Arrayed along the historic thoroughfare are numerous shops and restaurants- everything from antiques to gourmet coffee, gourmet pizza, books, cookies, yarn, candles, gifts, and a bistro with a classically trained chef.

Marty Busch, Village of Medina Code Enforcement Officer has long been a proponent of preserving the architectural history of the village. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Western Erie Canal Heritage Corridor.

Busch states, “In Medina we came to the realization fifteen years ago that the historic architecture of the village was a treasure that had to be protected, preserved and recognized. To that end we wrote and adopted a historic preservation law using the NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation model.”

Said Busch, “Over the years many new businesses have located in the CBD (Central Business District) resulting in a tremendous investment in preservation. There is now a great occupancy level in the CBD and it is the focus of many great family events and activities.”

One of the best downtown family events Busch spoke of is the annual “Christmas in Medina” celebration. Held on the weekend following Thanksgiving, it is the quintessential beginning to an old-fashioned Christmas. It is situated throughout the downtown historic district which is arrayed in a spectacular traditional display of decorations and lights.

Santa arrives at the “Santa House” by noon in a horse-drawn sleigh, vendors line the street, musical events occur throughout the afternoon, and the celebration ends with a massive “Christmas Parade of Lights” attracting participants and over 3,000 viewers from Rochester to Buffalo.

More on Christmas in Medina at

“Downtown Medina has a real recognizable sense of place,” said Busch. “Downtown Medina has become a destination and attraction.”

However, Busch cautioned, “We don’t ‘own’ it (the district). We are just the current caretakers holding it in trust for future generations.”

The district and immediate surrounding area contain many structures built of famous native Medina Sandstone. All within walking distance are several sandstone homes and churches. Nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, built in 1832, is famous for having been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not as a “church in the middle of the street”.

Two other stately churches bordering the district are a must-see: the First Baptist Church and St. Mary’s R.C. Church. Built of grayish-pink and brown Medina Sandstone respectively, their graceful gothic spires are a landmark on the Medina skyline. St. Mary’s also is home to notable artwork.

At the heart of the district is a Civil War-era opera house that is currently the focus of a restoration project. Built in 1864, Bent’s Opera House played host to many notables including orators John B. Gough, Rev. E. H. Chapin, and Theodore Tilton.

The structure is owned by the Orleans Renaissance Group, Inc., (ORG) who were until recently promoters of cultural events in the Medina area. That changed two years ago when the Bank of America donated the opera house to the group.

“This building is arguably the most important historic structure in the village,” said Chris Busch, Vice-President of ORG.

“In addition to the Medina Sandstone aspect, it is not only the cornerstone of the historic district, but of the very culture and history of Medina, from the Civil War to the early Twentieth Century,” said Busch. “There is no other place in the village that is associated with the history of the era more than Bent’s, and we are firmly committed to its preservation and its place in the downtown historic district.”

Busch is also chairman of both the Village of Medina Municipal Planning Board and the Architectural and Historic Review Board.

According to Busch, other notables appearing on the stage at Bent’s were silent film star R. D. MacLean, French violinist Camilla Urso, William F. Cody’s Wild West Show, and vaudeville/film star Harry D. Carey who appeared in a play he wrote, “Montana”.

More on Bent’s Opera House at :

Any time of year is a great time to visit this historic village, but fall offers some unique opportunities. While the community can be reached via the usual NYS routes (NYS 90 to Pembroke 48A to Rte. 77 and Rte. 63 to Medina Rte. 31 straight to Medina or Rte. 104 to Rte 63, south to Medina), fall foliage along the back roads of Orleans/Niagara offer not only spectacular fall color, but a bounty of fresh fruits (apples!) and vegetables from the farm stands that dot the route.

Renovation aims to return State Theater to its roots

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Jayne Weinkauf pretends to move in to kiss the wall in one of the changing rooms at the State Theater last week. Performers kissed the wall decades ago, and the lipstick stains remain today. Theater owner Jeff Konczak said he intends to preserve them. There are also decades-old signatures on the wall from people who performed.

ALPENA — At one point or another, most people have likely gone to a movie at the State Theater in Alpena. Many were employed at the theater for their first job, while others have memories of loved ones who performed at the old Maltz Opera House.

The State Theater is closed, but there is plenty of action in it as construction workers are busy prepping the structure for a complete renovation that will return it to its glory days as the opera house.

Alpena’s Jeff Konczak purchased the State Theater, and the former Vaughn’s store across the street and has big plans for them. He also purchased the old Royal Knight Theater just a few blocks away, and intends to show movies in it in the coming months.

The buildings are some of the oldest in downtown Alpena, and as the walls, floors and ceilings are peeled back, remnants of decades long past are poking through, as parts of the original decor are now exposed.

“Unreal, and just beautiful,” Konczak said, describing the structure during a recent tour of both the State Theater and what he is calling The Vaughn. “You don’t see craftsmanship like this anymore and really everything is in good shape.”

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Performers kissed the wall decades ago, and the lipstick stains remain today. Theater owner Jeff Konczak said he intends to preserve them.

Konczak intends to preserve as many of the iconic parts of the theater as possible, and has already decided to keep the State Theater sign, although it will have a new home, possibly across the street.

Another part of the theater that may live on is a wall in the upstairs changing room, where women who performed many years ago kissed the wall after applying their lipstick. The red and pink kisses are easily visible and plans are for the wall, which also includes signatures and dates, to live on.

“That’s history right there,” Konczak said.

The State Theater holds a special place in some people’s hearts. A few former employees of the theater shared their thoughts on it, and the development projects downtown.

They voiced support for all of the projects, but especially for the theater they grew to love.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz There are also decades-old signatures on the wall from people who performed.

Jesse Osmer was hired at the theater when he was 17 years old and in high school. He later became manager and watched the theater change hands several times. He also saw the building begin to fall into disrepair.

“It was heartbreaking. I took a lot of pride in not only the building, but the service we provided,” Osmer said.

When asked about Konczak’s plans to bring the opera house back to life, Osmer said he’s excited the theater will live on, and is anxious to see the final product.

“I have never been attached to a building the way I was to the State, and it meant a lot to me to see someone who referred to restoring the building as a dream to purchase it,” Osmer said. “It struck me as funny that it turned out while I was working there 20 years ago, falling in love with the building and dreaming about what it would be like to restore it, someone else was having that same dream. I’m glad to see it coming true.”

Jayne Weinkauf worked at the theater around 2005. Her husband worked there as well, but not at the same time. Weinkauf said she made a lot of great memories and friends at the State Theater, and is pleased the entertainment venue will live on.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Alex Konczak looks at what remains of theater 3 at the State Theater. The movie I Still Believe was one of the final movies shown at the theater before it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It never reopened. Now the entire theater is undergoing a major renovation project.

“I love it, because it’s old, part of our downtown, and is part of our history and culture,” she said. “I’m so happy someone is going to restore it back to how it originally was.”

Nick Modrzynski worked at the theater with Weinkauf. He said he has fond memories of when he was a projectionist, and then a shift-leader. Modrzynski said he made friendships that will last forever, and fully supports the restoration project. He said during slow times at the theater, he envisioned himself owning and improving the theater.

“I know when I worked there I used to daydream about winning the lottery and restoring it,” Modrzynski said. “To know someone is actually going to do it is incredible. The theater was the place to be back in the day, and I hope it is again.”

Last week, Konczak gave Osmer and Weinkauf a tour of the State Theater and showed them the progress made so far, and explained his plans for the historic building. Both shared memories with him, and thanked him for his investment.

“I’m so happy,” Weinkauf said as she looked at what was a mural that was hidden behind a wall, “I could cry.”

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Jeff Konczak, left, explains to former State Theater employees Jesse Osmer, center, and Jayne Weinkauf some of his project plans. Konczak purchased the old theater and is restoring it back to what it was when it was the Maltz Opera House.

A lot of planning and work on The Vaughn and State Theater remain, so the final products won’t be revealed in the coming weeks or months, Konczak said. He’s still gathering information about the Maltz Opera House so he can recreate it down to the tiniest detail.

Rushing the makeover would mean cutting corners, he said, and that is something he is not interested in doing because he wants the completed project one people will be proud of and utilize.

“We are going to get this right,” Konczak said. “It is not going to happen overnight because there is a lot involved, but we’re going to get it right.”

Konczak already has had The Vaughn emptied out and the environmental procedures done. He said there was very little lead paint and asbestos, so that project could move along more quickly than the theater.

At this point, he isn’t sure what the old store will become, but he added he envisions a place where people can shop, or grab a quick bite to eat and drink, before walking across the street for a show.

Courtesy Photo The Maltz Opera House was the go-to place in Alpena many decades ago. An ongoing construction project is returning the State Theater back back to its glorious roots. Owner Jeff Konczak said he intends to replicate the marquee and as many of the old theater’s features as closely as possible.

“We might not even have a concession stand in the theater,” he said. “The Vaughn might be the perfect place for it, but we’ll see. Nothing is finalized at this point and we’re tossing a lot of ideas around.”

Konczak has a very preliminary rendering of what The Vaughn may look like. It features large windows on both levels, as well as canopies along the sidewalk where diners can enjoy the atmosphere of downtown. As with the theater, Konczak said he intends to preserve as much of the building as possible, including the tin ceiling tiles, wooden staircase, and original brick walls.

Courtesy Photo The Maltz Opera House was the go-to place in Alpena many decades ago. An ongoing construction project is returning the State Theater back back to its glorious roots. Owner Jeff Konczak said he intends to replicate the marquee and as many of the old theater’s features as closely as possible.

Courtesy Photo A concept rendering of The Vaughn was recently created. When completed it will look much different than it does today and may be the home of the marquee sign from the theater across the street.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Decorative remnants at the State Theater are uncovered daily, as the renovation project moves forward. This mounted statue was hidden in the unused balcony.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Decorative remnants at the State Theater are uncovered daily, as the renovation project moves forward. This mounted statue was hidden in the unused balcony.

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Jayne Weinkauf, left, and her son Walter Weinkauf get a close up view of a mural that was hidden behind a wall in the State theater. Weinkauf worked at the theater and is excited to see what it looks like when the renovation project on it wraps up.

Watch the video: The Talented Mr. Ripley - Opera Scene