Sunday, February 22, 2009

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In 1861 the only auditorium, other than churches, suited for any public entertainment was Chahoon Hall, occupying all above the first floor of the later Beers building, on the upper side of Market street, about one hundred feet from the Public Square. This hall seated about three hundred persons, and was followed a few years later by Liberty Hall, in the third story of the later Frauenthal block, on the westerly side of South Main street, midway between Public Square and Northampton street, and by Landmesser's Hall, in the third story of the block on the easterly corner of South Main and South streets, each with a seating capacity of say six hundred.

In one or the other of these halls there would be given occasionally, during the winter months, a course of lectures or a series of other entertainments, consisting of concerts by some traveling troupe or by some local musical organization, sleight of hand performance by Signer Blitz and others, etc.

I recall the pleasing and well attended concerts that were given by the Hutchinson family, by the Baker family, by a quartet named the Continentals, and by the Swiss Bell Ringers, and others.

The lectures were usually of a very high order and given by especially able men. They were instructive and educational and at the same time very interesting and entertaining and commanded large audiences. Wendell Phillips of Boston, the "Silver Tongued", the most famous public speaker of his day and generation, was here at least twice in Liberty Hall during the sixties. His lecture on the "Lost Arts" was one of the most interesting deliverances ever given from any stage and was full of valuable information, much of which I can recall after all these years.

In other years the lecture platform of these halls was occupied by John B. Gough, the famous temperance apostle; by Reverend Dr. Joseph T. Duryea, a noted New York and later Boston preacher; Hon, William Parsons, a member of the British Parliament; Park Benjamin, the well-known litterateur; the eminent Bishop Simpson, of the Methodist Church; the Rev. Dr. Stephen Tyng, of New York, celebrated Episcopal divine; Bayard Taylor, Mrs. Scott Sid-dons, Mark Twain, and others. (George R. Bedford - Early Recollections)

The principal halls in the 1870's were; Music Hall, Liberty Hall, National Hall, Chahoon Hall and Fred Meyer's Opera House.