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11/21/2012 7:17:00 PM
Opera House past is topic of talk
Special to the Courier

"The Elks Opera House: from Rags to Riches" is the title of an Art Talk to be given by Elisabeth Ruffner to the Prescott Art Docents and the public at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 26, at the Prescott Center for the Arts, 208 N. Marina St.

Ruffner has been deeply involved with numerous community endeavors and is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the title of "Culture Keeper" in 2003 and the "Arizona Governor's Award for the Arts" in 2010.

Ruffner served as chairman of the successful capital campaign to restore the Elks Opera House. The preservation and renovation of this historic building will be the topic of her program, which will include a video presentation. All community members are welcome to join the Prescott Art Docents in learning more about this remarkable woman and her amazing story on Prescott's historic Elks Opera House.

For information or to RSVP, call 771-2937 or 443-5008 or visit

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: RJ Retired

There was no motion picture available in Prescott or anywhere else at the time of the Elks construction. The narrow minded of Prescott still look only at the money brought in at the door. That's a mistake. Many people do visit the Elks and its events from out of town and spend time here. They buy gas, rent rooms, eat in restaurants, purchase items from local small businesses.
Were there not to be a theater in Prescott, the city would be making efforts to have one built. Probably at 10 times the price paid for restoration.
If Mr. Ayres does not wish to attend that's his business. But I for one, am very happy we have the building. I'd like to see us show movies in it once again too. Carry on Historians.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Parker Anderson

Actually, Steve, it is simply a restoration of its original name, no more, no less. What would you call it? Perhaps my memory serves me ill, Steve--if so, please correct me--but I seem to recall you once were an advocate for the Elks. But today, you are unhappy because the place hasn't been torn down. Am I mistaken?

Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012
Article comment by: Steven Ayres

No one who knew anything about theatre at the time thought it was really an opera house, I can guarantee that. The criteria for that definition were well established by the 18th century. Opera and theatre are related but quite different genres of art with different requirements. It was called an opera house to make it seem more grand, embraced by people without the sophistication to know the difference, just as Mr Anderson and his friends are doing today. Clinging to this idea as if it has some sort of historical significance is just embarrassing for the community.

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Parker Anderson

Yep, bloggers opining on things they know nothing about....typical day in cyberspace. One can debate until the cows come home whether the City should own a theatre, but at least get your history right, my friends. The Elks was not built as a movie theatre----it became one after the motion picture revolution that occurred in the early 20th century. Movies are taken for granted today, but when they were new, people were awestruck! And as for Steven Ayres and his friends who always say it never was an opera house, you are talking by today's standards. The people who built it really believed they were building an opera house, and "Elks Opera House" was indeed what it was called the day it opened its doors in 1905. You can look it up---if you don't know where, contact me, I'll help you.

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: Steven Ayres

It is not, never has been and never could be an opera house. It's a theatre.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: An expensive and useless attempt to bring civilization to Prescott.

"Rags to riches." Hardly that. A white elephant clothed in rags is more like it. It was never an opera house. It was a movie theater. This whole Ruffner ego trip was an attempt to create a silk purse out of a sows ear. After a million dollar donation, and some $300,000 plus from the city ... we have a nicely restored theater. In Mayor K's veil of transparency the city will not tell us what they have really put into this venture. Or what they paid after the renovation for the rest of the building. There is endless mismanagement of the theater. And a nasty law suit related to this mess. Small venue. Third and fourth rate entertainment. Priced too high for locals to use it. Inadequate parking. And with a naive, fiscally inept council that wants to recoup ALL the money they have thrown at it it is doubtful if it will ever be unloaded. Granted the Elks has been carefully and beautifully renovated. But at great expense. And to what end?

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