Year Listed: 2011
County: Chaffee County
Construction Date: 1889
Threat When Listed: Demolition by Neglect – Condemned
Status: IN PROGRESS
After a devastating fire in 1888 destroyed more than 30 buildings in Salida, a group of local businessmen organized an Opera Association and spent $30,000 to construct the Salida Opera House. The building was dedicated on January 1, 1889, at which point the local newspaper proclaimed the Salida Opera House to be “in every way superior to any in Colorado except the Tabor Grand in Denver.” The Salida Opera House was (and remains) an architectural gem, constructed of brick with a highly detailed cornice and central pediment. Ornate plasterwork and handmade tile are featured prominently at the front entrance that is flanked by two commercial storefronts, while the second story that historically served as the Masonic Hall looks out on the street through eight large arched windows.
After the turn of the century, opera was overtaken as the entertainment of choice, and so in 1909 the Salida Opera House was renamed the Osos Grand and reconfigured for moving picture shows. An unfortunate remodel in the 1960s resulted in the once grand façade being covered with textured stucco that obscured much of the architectural detail, and eventually the building came to be known as the Unique Theater. By 2007, lack of proper maintenance had seriously affected the structural integrity of the Theater, and city officials declared the building unsafe. A subsequent owner installed large steel beams to stabilize the rear theater portion of the building, and removed the stucco to reveal the historic façade. In May of 2010, with work stalled and the holes that had been cut in the roof to install the beams still open to the elements, city officials once again stepped in and issued a 90-day order for the Theater to be repaired or demolished. Negotiations between local preservationists, the City and the property owner continue. The Opera House was purchased by a preservation minded buyer who is working to put commercial units on the first floor and residential above.