Known Years of Operation

Jan 1, 1897 - Sep 6, 1920

Number of Seats



John V. Houston
Houston's Opera House, c1900
Houston Opera House, ca 1900. Bally Ho Band during annual Firemen's Ball at the Houston Opera House, about 1900. Photo Fred Houston, courtesy Klamath County Museum.


According to the Oregon Encyclopedia, John V. Houston started his opera house on Main Street in Klamath Falls in 1897. He operated it as a multipurpose event and community space for many years. The Opera House was more than a theater for film as it became the hub for the city’s arts & culture. Events such as dances, club meetings, sports events and church services were offered here. This wasn’t just a place to catch your favorite film but hypnotists, boxing matches, traveling circuses and more premiered here.

Basketball game at Houston's Opera House, 1908
Klamath Falls Evening Herald, Feb. 27, 1908, p. 4. Historic Oregon Newspapers.

There were around 250 seats at the Houston Opera House. Although, at the peak of its success with the introduction of vaudeville performances (melodramas, minstrel shows and more), nearly 700 people were trying to squeeze into the Opera House at one point.

The most notable motion picture showings found at the Opera House include The Battle Cry of Peace and The Escape.  Additionally, there were many performances of famous people at the time: Actors like Mary Pickford appeared on the big screen, screenings of D.W. Griffiths films were often features, many musicians performed… The list goes on and on.

Houston's Opera House was honored as the first theater in Klamath Falls with a Vitagraph machine. The Edison Projectoscope was used from 1901 onward, thus giving Klamath Falls and its citizens access to big titled names like Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders in Cuba. This gave this small town in Oregon a look to another place in the world, because they may never get to see it in person themselves.

J.V. Houston was often found to try new ways of advertising. He was an innovator from the very beginning.

The early 1900s weren’t shy to have their blunt racism showed. At the time, it wasn’t defined as “racism” but just as the way things were. But looking back, it is interesting to see “blackface” widely advertised and accepted.

Houston's Opera House was destroyed on Labor Day 1920, due to a building across the street (Houston Hotel) going up in flames. The fire resulted in 13 deaths and much damage to buildings on Main & 2nd street.

Fire destroys Houston's Opera House, 1920
Statesman Journal (Salem), Sept. 7, 1920, p. 1.


Program at Houston's Opera House, 1908
Klamath Falls Evening Herald, June 18, 1908, p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
Local movies at Houston's Opera House, 1916
Local movies at the Opera House. Klamath Falls Evening Herald, Feb. 7, 1916. Historic Oregon Newspapers.
Program at Houston's Opera House, 1916
Klamath Falls Evening Herald, Feb. 7, 1916. Oregon Historic Newspapers.
Advertising for Houston's Opera House, 1914
Klamath Falls Evening Herald, Aug. 12, 1914. Historic Oregon Newspapers.


Program at Houston's Opera House, 1917
Klamath Falls Evening Herald, Mar. 16, 1917. Historic Oregon Newspapers.


Works Cited

  • 1. “Houston Opera House Circa 1900” Oregon Encyclopedia. March 17, 2018 (last update).

    2. “Klamath Falls to Show 16 & 17” The Evening Herald. February 7, 1916. 4.

    3. “J.V. Houston Honored. The Evening Herald. December 24, 1913. 1.

    4. “Houston’s Metropolitan Amusements” The Evening Herald. December 29, 1915. 4.

    5.”Twentieth Mask Ball This Week” The Evening Herald. December 27, 1915. 4.

    6. “Minstrels Will Show Two Nights” The Evening Herald. November 20, 1911. 1.

    7. “Episcopal Services” The Evening Herald. December 10, 1915.

    8. “Senior Class” The Evening Herald. April 21, 1914. 4.

    9. “The Battle Cry of Peace” The Evening Herald. February 7, 1916. 4.

    10.”‘The Escape’ Coming to The Opera House.” The Evening Herald. November 3, 1916. 5.

    11.”Houston Opera House Experiment Astounds Musical Klamath Falls” November 10, 1916. 3.

    12. “Flagpole is Used as a Billboard” The Evening Herald. August 12, 1914. 4.

    13. “Clowns, blackface, Colonial, mexican…” The Evening Herald. December 29, 1915. 4.

    14. “The Last Days of Pompeii” The Evening Herald. March 16, 1917. 4.

    15. "Ten Die in Klamath Falls Fire." Statesman Journal, Sept. 7, 1908. 1.