|Date of photo
||Sumpter. Beginning of plank street construction at the intersection of Mill and Granite streets. This photo looks south down Mill St. The plank street ran a couple of blocks west (right) down Granite St. from this intersection. Large building at the left is the Ellis Opera House. The photo was taken from the future site of the Sumpter Hotel.
There is another copy of this photo in the folder.
Brooks Hawley note about the Ellis Opera House contained in his Album #1: Not that it was anything plush, but in those days a hall that would do for a traveling vaudeville troop was an opera house. The comedian in the lot would crack jokes that would put Sumpter in the same class with Salt Lake City and San Francisco, while making disparaging remarks about the hick town of McEwen, down the valley. How well I remember that stage curtain, the hole had been poked in the canvas square in the prow of the battleship Oregon so that sometimes an eye would appear, sizing up the audience before the curtain went up. What blissful anticipation. I, about 4 years old, would be perched on the front edge of a wooden folding chair, and they were the sort that needed some weight toward the back to keep them from collapsing, so down I would go with a great clatter of wooden slats.
The opera house was really just an enormous empty dance hall with afore mentioned folding chairs that could be piled back against the wall. It has a hollow sound, awful acoustics, even as the Community Center at Baker does to this day. I had always heard of the Sumpter boom, and I used to believe that I had been in the back of the opera house when the boom went off, maybe a little confusion with the sound of a folding chair going back on me.
Oh yes, and that stage, there I got my first taste of electricity. There would be missing bulbs in the sockets in the footlights so these were good holes to poke my fingers and get a shock.
Downstairs was Cap Davies Electric Theater, and that was where Sumpter kids beheld the first motion pictures. They had plenty of action. I remember one about a wealthy eccentric. He had a cute little castle in a lake in his lovely garden. When he took his friends to see inside the little castle, he would rush back to the bank and reach inside a tree to pull a lever that would make the castle sink in the lake and drown everyone.
Baker County Library District, 2400 Resort St., Baker City, OR 97814 --
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Last modified on: December 09, 2017