John J Wright’s Opera House occupied the second floor of the building above Wright’s Store (today’s Panda Garden). It opened in the early 1880s (before the Enquirer was around to document it) and hosted the first real Bremen High School commencement in 1890 (six graduates).
Today, the Wright Building is occupied by the Panda Garden restaurant, and you can just make out the shadow of the old iron staircase that allowed patrons to ascend to the second floor to see all manner of plays, musical performances, and—on March 9 and 10 of 1915—the world-famous magician Frederick Eugene Powell.
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Powell was indeed world-famous. Magictricks.com has this to say:
(1856-1938) Legendary American magician. Performed with Imro Fox and Servais LeRoy as part of the Triple Alliance of Magic, a superstar magic extravaganza stage show. The second Dean of the Society of American Magicians, from 1922-1938.
J M Sargent, the Wawasee entertainer and later hotelier (and apparent amateur magician himself), recommended Powell highly to the Enquirer. Alas, the shows here sparsely attended. Nonetheless, after staying in Wawasee for a time, Powell returned in October, this time in the Majestic theater (today the Bremen Theatre).
Powell’s act was eventually captured on film, so get yourself a straight-backed wooden chair and uncomfortable shoes and enjoy bit of what your great-grandparents might have seen.
Feel free to forward a couple of Barber dimes to Historic Bremen….