October 31, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Posted in El Paso | Leave a comment

As the junior partner of architect John J. Stewart Wm. J. Carpenter played an important role in the design of the Myar (Myer) Opera House in El Paso, Texas in 1888.  Designed in the Renaissance Style with Romanesque features the opera house was the cultural center of El Paso until it burned in 1905.  During the theater’s short  heyday such famous entertainers as Edwin Booth, Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtrree and John L. Sullivan appeared there.  It is also reported that  towards the end a portion of this historical building was put to use as the brothel of a prominent madam.

The Volunteer Fire Department bravely fought the blaze in 1905, but it raged out of control until an entire block on El Paso’s main street was demolished by the blaze.  By this time Mr. Carpenter was practicing as an architect in Pittsburgh so he may not have known of the disaster..

Most of the history of this building has been lost because of its short life before  the fire, but for  the results of my Google search go to the  Myar Opera House El Paso page. One of the links given there has the only picture of the building I have been able to locate.  I tried several ways to reproduce it here, but it is apparently coded to prevent reproduction. and I have been unable to obtain a reproducible from the original source, the El Paso Historical Preservation Department.  You can take a quick look at it by clicking here;  it is an impressive building for El Paso in the early pioneer years.  If I receive a better photograph from anyone I will be glad to print it here, with full accreditation.


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