Opening Tonight of the New Park Theatre And Pythian Office Building
Rose Coghlan Will Appear in Sardou’s “Diplomacy”
Description of the Henderson Playhouse
Football Teams Play This Afternoon.

Henderson’s new Park theatre will be opened to the public this evening. Rose Coghlan has been engaged with her excellent company to appear in Sardou’s
The opening will be the most important event occurring in Henderson in recent years. All the prominent society people of this section will be in attendance. The Evansville delegation will go down this afternoon via the Ohio Valley and Louisville & Nashville roads.
This afternoon the Henderson and Evansville football teams will have a contest on the Henderson grounds, which will serve as a prelude to the night entertainment.
The Park theater and Pythian office building is a handsome monument to the enterprise and liberality of Ivy lodge No. 21, Knights of Pythias, of Henderson. Progressive members of the order in our sister city claiming and proving by actual count the largest uniformed rank of any lodge of the order in the country and itself as a lodge being one of the foremost, felt within themselves that this lodge should do something of I a public nature whereby the public as well as the lodge might to a degree more or less beneficial enjoy with them the fruits of their intelligent liberality.
According to the Henderson Gleaner men with ample fortune to doubly assure any reasonable enterprise came forward and proposed to back the lodge and thereby bring into actual life what at that time was no more than a hopeful dream in the mind of the few most interested. These gentlemen, James E. Rankin and John H. and James R. Barret, conceived and submitted a proposition so favorable and so liberal that it aroused an enthusiasm that would down at no ordinary opporition. In May, 1893, under the name, Pythian building association, an organization was formed with a capital stock of $50,000. Of this sum $7,000 was set aside for purchase of a lot, the remainder to be applied to the erection of the building. In the articles of incorporation authority was reserved to issue bonds of the association for an amount deemed necessary to properly equip the building. After abundant and painstaking consultation among the members it was agreed to erect a commodious brick and stone front building, three stories high on the vacant lot adjoining the Barret house on Main street, the front of which was to be subdivided into roomy handsome offices, glass fronts and an opera house to compare favorably with any similar building in the United States, in the rear.
The first board of directors was composed of James E. Rankin, Paul J. Marrs, J. H. Frayser, Edwin Hodge and Joseph R. Johnston. A short time subsequent to this election Mr. Frayser sold his interests in Henderson and removed to Evansville, thereby creating a vacaney in the board. On the following January at the annual meeting the vacaney occasioned by the removal of Mr. Frayser was supplied by the election of Mr. B. G. Witt.
The architect for the building was E. D. Robbins, of Chicago, and Messrs. Mundo & McGraw, of Henderson, received the contract for construction.
The office portion of this magnificent building is of Bedford stone and Saint Louis pressed brick, is 130 feet front on Main street, three stories high and contains 25 double offices, 17 1-2×30 feet, solid glass fronts.
In the third story is the Pythian lodge room 50×60 feet and most excellently ventilated and planned for the purposes for which it is intended. The ceiling of the room is 18 feet high, exposing to view and advantage the truss timbers supporting the roof. The remaining half of the third story floor is subdivided into rooms, 10 in number, which have been leased to and will be used by the Barret house in connection with the hotel. They are the most desirable rooms to be had and are elegantly equipped in every way for the comfortable entartainment of the guests of the hotel. The Pythian building and the Barret house will be connected by an arcade or bridge giving free, easy, convenient and safe access.

The theatre is in the rear of the Pythian building proper, on the ground floor and is reached by a magnificent tiled floor hallway from the front, leading directly into the theatre without mounting a single step. As regards fire protection it is perhaps the safest building of like character to be found in the country at large. It is as near perfect in this most important particular as a house can be made. The threatre is 76×125 feet, with a 35-foot drop curtain. There is but one larger stage in the state – the Auditorum at Louisville – and no stage combines more of the necessary advantages. It is capacitated by its dimensions and convenient accessories to accommodate the largest aggregations on the road. All of the stage property, including scenes, curtains, etc., has been selected with an eye to rapid and convenient handling with little trouble and consists of the very latest and most to be desired appurtenances to be found in any of the metropolitan cities. The old-fashioned sliding scenes are superseded by the hoist. The entire stage equipment is perfect.
The parquette of the theatre has 288 excellently upholstered chairs, affording the most luxurious comfort to the occupants.
The dress circle contains 227 chairs somewhat similar, while the balcony has 280 and the gallery, 284 chairs of elegant and comfortable design. The number of chairs now placed aggregate the round number of 1,088.
On each side of the stage and having entries from the first and second, or the parquette and balcony floors, are four superlatively handsome private boxes, capable of accommodating comfortably 48 persons, or six to the box. This, added to the number of chair provided, makes the present seating capacity even 1,100. The eight boxes spoken of are very handsome in their exterior finish. The decorations are the work of a master artist and will compare favorably with those of the finer playhouses.
They are delightfully situated and will afford the occupants every comfort and possible advantage for enjoying an evening’s entertainment. By the arrangement of the theater the seating capacity, if need be, can be increased to 1,353. All that is required is the extra number of chairs.
The furniture in the building is the finest made, no expense being denied in the selection and purchase of it. The carpets and draperies are the finest to be desired, and comprise the most beautiful patterns. The carpets are equal in every respect to those to be found in the most expensively supplied private residences to be found in the city. The directors have purchased nothing but the very best to be had and the items of carpets, chairs, draperies, etc., cost a very large sum of money. Certainly there is no building to be found in Kentucky, combining the features of the Park theatre, that approaches it in any particular. It is this feature that commends the enterprise the thoughtful persons.
The 25 double offices mentioned in this article have plate glass fronts and are heated by steam supplied from two very large tubular boilers located in a remote but convenient corner of the cellar.
They are to be lighted by gas or the electric light, as may be agreed on between the board and the occupants.
In the center, or near the center, of the pythian office building, on the line of the broad hallway leading to the theater, is located the passenger elevator. This splendid necessity will be operated by steam and presided over by an elevator boy whose duty it is to furnish rapid transit at all hours during the day and to a reasonably late hour in the night.
The directors have entered into a contract with Professor Charles Knapp by which he agrees to furnish music for the theatre when required by the manager. The contract is for a period of one year and contains the following stipulations: The orchestra unless otherwise agreed between the parties is to consist of seven pieces, never less. For Miss Coghlan there will be 15 musicians.

To President James E. Rankin more credit is unquestionably due than to any other one person associated with the grand enterprise. From its incipiency he has denied the undertaking none of his valuable time, advice or work necessary to produce the splendid actuality that now confronts the people of Henderson. He has been liberal in all things yet economical and of fine judgment in all. To him more than any other the people are indebted for this building, ahead of the times and surpassing any similar production in the state.

The board of directors was fortunate in the selection of Col. Alex D. Rogers, of Hopkinsville, to take charge of the combined building. He was engaged when the corner-stone was laid April 12 last. Mr. Rodgers has had 16 to 18 years’ experience in the operation and managemont of theaters and is therefore equipped for the position. He is widely known and is deservedly very popular. He is a distinguished Knight of Pythias, having been elected grand chancellor of the state. He served the 1893-4 term with marked credit to himself.
The Park theatre is far in advance of the demands of Henderson, but the opportunity to supply the building at a greatly decreased cost, owing to its nature induced the gentlemen to make the venture and so far they do not regret their determination. One of the dis-tinetive features associated in the management of the theatre is the arrangement observed in the building, alotting to the two races certain divisions of floor space on play nights. It was determined by the board of directors to provide a separate entrance for the especial use of the colored people who attend theatre’s, and that the gallery be set apart to them, and this has been done. Furthermore, it was determined to provide admission tickets so printed in form as to leave it entirely optional with the manager of the opera house to refund money paid for a ticket by any objectionable purchaser.


Unfortunately, the theater burned July 1896.