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Built in 1885, the original Opera House burned down in the 1892 fire that destroyed much of downtown Woodland. It was rebuilt on the same site, using some of the remaining foundations and bricks from the walls, reopening in 1896. WOH became the stopping place for such performers as Nance O’Neil, James A Herne, and Harry Davenport. The great Polish actress Madame Helen Modjeska, John Philip Sousa and his band, comics Weber and Fields, George M. Cohan’s troupe, “Gentleman Jim” Corbett and John L. Sullivan (who appeared in theatrical production followed by exhibitions of “Fistcuffs”), and such up and coming young motion picture stars as Sidney Greenstreet, Walter Huston, and Verna Felton.
Over 300 touring companies have appeared on its stage by 1913 when the opera house, due to the encroachment of motion pictures in the valley and partly as a result of a lawsuit over an injury, was closed and remained boarded up until 1971. The Yolo County Historical Society purchased the building in 1971 to ensure that it did not fall to the wrecking ball and bulldozer. Declared a state historical park in 1976, the Historical Society gave the property to the State of California in 1980; and in 1981, the restoration began.
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