BRIDGE STREET HISTORY CENTER
Dan Vanderburg is a local author and speaker who loves Texas history. He has published six historical fiction novels to date about exciting events in Texas history. As a speaker, Dan presents programs about everyday life in early Texas.
A mark of sophistication to American towns in the late 19th century was having a nice opera house and the entertainment that went with it. The elegant Granbury Opera House was opened on the town square in 1886 and operated for 24 years until hard times forced it to close in 1911.
Sixty-four years later Jo Ann Miller, the successful entertainer, visited Granbury on a golfing outing. During her stay, she visited the neglected and dilapidated opera house with Mr. and Mrs. Joe Nutt and developed a new passion. Within weeks, she moved to Granbury and joined Mr. and Mrs. Nutt in the restoration of the old Granbury Opera House while maintaining its unique turn-of-the-century charm.
Jo Ann wasn’t always in show business. After growing up in East Texas, she earned two arts degrees at Texas Woman’s University. She continued her education in New York to study archeology. However, after joining the cast of an off-Broadway show, she found her true passion in theater arts. She soon became a well-known singer, actor, dancer and comedienne on stage and in nightclubs. She performed from San Francisco to London. She also managed a summer stock theater in Cooperstown, New York for 14 years.
In Granbury, Jo Ann used her power of persuasion to involve the community in the restoration cause. She teamed with Joe Nutt and other influential leaders in town to help raise funds, materials, supplies and labor for the Opera House project. Architect Ed Beren, a well-respected restorer of historic landmarks, joined the team at no cost to provide the building plans. Several local contractors also offered their services of their companies at no cost to the project.
On the evening of June 19, 1975 Miller proudly hosted the grand re-opening with a VIP formal affair attended by Texas Attorney General John Hill and other dignitaries, contributors, and civic leaders. The musical melodrama on tap for the evening was “Gold in the Hills.” Since then, hundreds of shows have been staged and thousands of guests entertained at the beautiful 1886 Granbury Opera House.
This year, in conjunction with Granbury’s Sesquicentennial birthday celebration, The Bridge Street History Center, in recognition of the historical significance of the Granbury Opera House, is producing a new play titled, “Granbury Follies.”
If you enjoyed the BSHC stage production of “The Mitchell/Truitt Feud,” the same playwright, producers and director have created a winner again with the original musical comedy, “Granbury Follies.” It will show the labor of love that Jo Ann Miller, Joe Nutt, and the community had for saving and restoring the Granbury Opera House in 1974 after it sat in ruin for almost half a century.
This one-act play with a small, select cast will keep you laughing, your toes tapping, and you’ll have a chance to join the fun with audience singing. The dates for this nostalgic play are Sunday evenings at 7 p.m., Sept. 26, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. Tickets are available at the Granbury Opera House box office, at 133 E. Pearl St. in Granbury (817-579-0952).