Opera Houses- Rudolph, Bunn, Chatterton: Broadsides, Flyers and Programs Collection

Broadsides, Flyers and Programs from Rudolph, Bunn, Chatterton Opera Houses in Springfield, Illinois 1867-1902.

The broadsides and programs were collected for performances that played at the Rudolph’s Opera House followed by the Bunn Opera House and then Chatterton’s Opera House. The Opera House was located on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Sixth streets.  Robert Rudolph, a local brewmaster, purchased the land in 1864.  He had the Rudolph’s Opera House built using what was known as the best and finest design of the period.  The theater was a three story building with the theater on the second floor retail space was on the first floor.   Construction began in 1865 and the first performance was given on December 25, 1866.  The theater itself received rave reviews but the first performance was disappointing.  On Jan 7, 1867 the theatre re-opened with a steady series of performances given by mainly out-of-town touring groups. On occasion local organizations also used the theater.   Rudolph, it appears, immediately had financial trouble and on April 13, 1867 mortgaged the facility to Jacob Bunn, Sr. for $60,000.  At the death of Rudolph about year later in 1868 Bunn acquired the facility through foreclosure and continued its operation as a theater.  Following a fire on March 17, 1876 Bunn rebuilt what was almost a totally new structure.  Jacob Bunn’s private bank bankrupted in 1878 and George W. Chatterton, Sr., purchased the theatre building.  After major remodeling the theatre reopened on September 10, 1879 as Chatterton’s Opera House. The building was of three stories with the back section about five stories high to hang backdrops until time for them to be lowered for a performance.  The first floor was still used as retail space.  By 1924 the theater had deteriorated, and it was condemned as unsafe.  The last show was May 13, 1924.  Demolition was discussed but much of the building remained standing and used by an automotive parts and garage dealer. Finally on September 16, 1968 the entire building was demolished.