Tabor Opera House
Tabor Opera House will reopen for tours in the spring of 2021.
Experience the splendor of this majestic opera house, once billed as the finest theatre between St. Louis and San Francisco. Silver baron Horace Tabor, who made his fortune in Leadville, built this opulent building in 1879 in a mere 100 days. Join us for performances and tours.
You can tour the Tabor and stand on the stage where John Philip Sousa, Oscar Wilde, and Anna Held performed, and wander the dressing rooms beneath the stage. Tour the Tabor museum, a collection of memorabilia. Local youth and experienced local history buffs will keep you spellbound. The Tabor Opera House will reopen for tours in the spring of 2021.
At the Tabor Opera House, you can enjoy concerts, plays, comedies, and more most summers. Check back for news of the 2021 performance season.
History and Revitalization
The Tabor Opera House was built in 1879 by silver mining magnate Horace Austin Warner (HAW) Tabor and in its heyday hosted the likes of conductor John Philip Sousa, British wit Oscar Wilde, the great actress Sarah Bernhardt, and performer Anna Held. Even a circus with tigers has paraded across the stage.
Around the turn of the century, 150 opera houses graced the state. Today, only eight stand as a proud monument to Colorado history. The City of Leadville has recently purchased the Tabor Opera House and is working to revitalize this magnificent brick theater.
How the Tabor Opera House was Built
The Tabor Opera House was built in 1879 by Horace Austin Warner (HAW) Tabor, one of Colorado’s most well known mining magnates. It was one of the most costly and most substantially built structures in Colorado history. The construction materials were not available in Leadville, so HAW Tabor ordered that they be brought up by wagons… a tedious task. Nevertheless, the Tabor was completed in only 100 days from the date of ground-breaking, which was a record time.
The massive three-story opera house was constructed of stone, brick, and iron, and trimmed with Portland cement. Its solid brick walls stand 16 inches thick. The color scheme used was red, gold, white, and sky blue, lit by 72 jets of brightly burning gas lights. This substantial construction has weathered the test of time.
Evelyn Livingston Furman
Evelyn Livingston Furman, who sold Maytag wringer washers, bought the Tabor Opera House from the Elks in 1954 and personally ran it until she was 84 years old. Along the way, Evelyn wrote three books that tell the story of the Opera House, Augusta Tabor, and Silver Dollar Tabor. Eventually, she turned the controls to her daughter Sharon Furman Bland and her husband Bill.
Leadville Purchases the Tabor to Create a Cultural Center
In November 2016, the City of Leadville purchased the Tabor Opera House and is revitalizing this grand old building as a center for diverse arts and culture in the heart of Leadville.
Phase I of construction on the Tabor Opera House began in June 2020, thanks to an $830,000 grant from Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), a $500,000 National Park Service grant, $20,000 from the City of Leadville, and the $150,000 from the Leadville Main Street Program’s Partners in Preservation campaign in late 2018. Tabor fans in Colorado and nationwide secured the $150,000 by voting online over six weeks and winning the Tabor first place in the national Partners in Preservation contest. Together, these funds provide the $1.5 million needed to start the first phase of the rehabilitation to fix the most fragile west and south walls.
The Tabor has been named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and an Endangered Place by Colorado Preservation, Inc. Learn how to contribute to this important project!