Home News Local News When did the old Union Opera House burn down?
When did the old Union Opera House burn down?
The Union Opera House was destroyed by fire early on the morning of Jan. 19, 1917. The fire started at 2:30 a.m. and gutted the building and an adjoining house in three hours.
The loss was estimated at $7,000, $6,000 for the opera house and $1,000 for the residence. The fire was started by a stove in the northwest corner of the opera house, according to a story in the Jan. 19, 1917, edition of The Observer. The stove had been used to heat the building during the previous evening for a Union basketball team practice. The team was preparing for a Jan. 20 basketball game against the La Grande YMCA.
The wind that morning was blowing from the south instead of toward the southeast as it normally had been doing.
“Had the wind been blowing, as usual toward the southeast, Union people do not believe they would have had much of a town this morning,’’ The Observer stated in its Jan. 19, 1917, edition.
The temperature was about zero when the blaze started. This delayed firefighters initially because hydrants were frozen and thawing them was difficult.
The opera house had been completed around 1915. Construction work on it started about 1910.
How many people were drafted from Union County for World War I?
We do not know an exact total, but we do know that 135 men had been drafted as of late July 1917. The names of these men were all listed in the July 27, 1917, edition of The Observer. The total included 75 men from La Grande, 13 from North Powder, 12 from Elgin, 10 from Union, three from Imbler and two from Cove. The men were drafted via a lottery.
The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. Initially, only men between the ages of 21 to 31 were drafted, but the age range was later modified to 18 to 45.
About 4.35 million Americans served in the U.S. military during WWI. A total of 116,516 were killed and 204,002 were wounded, according to www.pbs.org.
Where was the old Catholic church in Island City located?
The Catholic church was where the Celebration Community Church, 10200 McAlister Road, is today, according to City of Island City Public Works Director Judy Rygg. Believe it or not, it appears, based on a photo comparison, that the Celebration Community Church building is the same one that housed the old Catholic church. The building has been extensively remodeled, however, since it was built more than 130 years ago and no longer has a steeple.
The Island City church was built in the early 1880s and dedicated on Nov. 19, 1882, according to the book “A Brief History of the Diocese of Baker” by Father Dominic O’Connor. The citizens of Island City donated $400 for the construction of the Catholic church, which was called Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Island City Catholic Church likely closed around 1890 because the first Catholic church in La Grande was built then. The La Grande church was located about where the Joseph Building, K Avenue and Fourth Street, is today.
It was made of wood and was much smaller than La Grande’s present brick Catholic church, Our Lady of the Valley. The Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, 1002 L Ave., was built in 1914 and 1915.
The first Catholic church in Union County was built in Island City because railroad officials had assured church leaders that the main depot for this area would be there, according to “A Brief History of the Diocese of Baker.” The train depot instead was built in La Grande when the railroad came through the Grande Ronde Valley in 1884.