John Piper arrived in Virginia City in 1860 and opened the Old Corner Bar on this site. In 1867 he acquired Maguire’s Opera House, two blocks east. When that building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1875, Piper built a new opera house next to his bar. That building, probably the grandest of all, burned in 1883. The current structure, constructed largely from wood salvaged from its predecessor and timbers from abandoned mines, dates to 1885. Piper’s Opera House was famous for hosting a wide variety of internationally renown entertainers, orators, poets, plays, and minstrel shows. It was also a venue for political rallies, dances, and other civic events. It continues to host the annual “Governor’s Ball.”
In the exterior view, click to see a detailed view of the circular sign (left), the first electrically-illuminated sign on the Comstock. You may also click the informational plaque below it.
Click one hotspot to enter the auditorium, with its vintage boxes, proscenium, and chandelier making it one of the finest theaters of its era in the nation. Inside, click to view the advertising curtain, or olio, which shows period advertisements. Another link will take you to the 2004 Governor’s Ball.
Click the other hotspot to enter the excavation site of Piper’s Old Corner Bar. Here there are three hotspots to view items discovered during the dig. Two other links show old advertising posters found inside. The artifacts may be seen in higher resolution here.