Thursday, May 5, 2016

Pittsburgh's Duquesne Theater, 1890-1924

Last week, I wrote about an autograph book previously owned by Susie Jane Lowery Richardson. Inside that book was a loose piece of paper with a note written by Susie's daughter, Lilia, when she was very young. (Words weren't separated by spaces, so she must have been at an age when she was learning to write.) The paper was actually letterhead from the Duquesne Theater in Pittsburgh.


Susie must have been a fan of the Duquesne Theater, based on having its letterhead as well as this mention in The Pittsburgh Press in January 1900:  "Mrs. David J. Richardson gave a box party at the Duquesne theater yesterday afternoon in honor of her small daughters and their friends. There were about a dozen children in the party."

According to an 1890 article in The Pittsburg Dispatch, the building of the Duquesne Theater was initially a livery stable and renovated for its grand opening as a theater on December 1, 1890. After more than three decades of providing entertainment, the structure on Penn Avenue (between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Street) was torn down in 1924 to construct a nine-story building for the Standard Furniture Co.

Note: Lilia Richardson's message on the Duquesne Theater's letterhead was written to either Susie's mother or mother-in-law. This is what she said (punctuation and spacing has been added by me): "Dear Grandma, Mama has gone to church and I had to stay home and be mama. I am going to see Dela Fox. I am going to get my dress made. I'm going to have it trimmed with green velvet. Marguerite [her sister] cannot go. Lilia"

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