Symbol for a Community: The Dickens Opera House and Theaters of the American West

Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Research Paper

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

School of Art and Art History, College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Annette Stott

Second Advisor

M.E. Warlick


Theaters, Colorado, Longmont, History, Group identity


This paper reveals the importance of the Dickens Opera House to the local history of Longmont, Colorado. Through an exploration of pioneer history and of architectural patronage and audience accommodation, this paper illustrates how the Dickens Opera House participated in the construction of cultural identity and civic aspirations of the city of Longmont. Using the Tabor Opera House of Leadville and Wright Opera House of Ouray as framing examples to place the Dickens Opera House within its proper architectural and historical context, I approach the building’s inception, construction, and early years as a way to track the early civic identity of a community through a work of architecture. The Dickens Opera House provided a point for the citizens of Longmont to focus their hopes of success and respectability in a newly formed community. An opera house provided a high-class perception of a town that provided a projection of respectability. Such a construction was built from various sources – the architecture of the building, simply calling the building an ‘opera house’, furnishings in the latest fashions and equipment of the latest technology, and extravagant scenery and curtains. In addition to these outward projections, opera houses also provided a place for community events. It was the location in town that brought people together.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.

This document is currently not available here.