2nd Street - Corner Union



Built in 1860, the Greenlaw Opera was a 4 story Romanesque Opera House that had been built with greatness in mind:  a ballroom that could accommodate 300 couples; an opera house with 8 foot wide doors operated by pulleys and counterweights; and an auditorium with fifty foot ceilings.   It's 200 foot frontage faced Second Street.  The entire ground floor consisted of shops, stores, and restaurants.  The halls were available for meetings, lectures, social events and theatrical productions.  But the stage measured only 10 feet deep - sufficient for singers and speakers but very limiting for actors in a theatrical production.  Thus there was always competition between the Greenlaw and The Memphis for the major productions.  The Greenlaw burned in 1880 and was not rebuilt.  A marker for the Opera House is in place today,  but although there are numerous historical references

to the building, we have not been able to locate a photo or drawing of the it.   The GREENLAW OPERA HOUSE is listed in the 1865 through 1883 Memphis Directories.  Seating capacity - 800 seats.


In 1872 the Greenlaw was extensively renovated and was renamed GRAND OPERA HOUSE.  In the 1872, 1873, 1874 Memphis Directories, it is listed as "Grand Opera House (Greenlaw Building)" .  Of course, every building in Memphis seems to have had more than one name at various times, and folks just continue referring to them by their original names.  However, it's important to note that the original Orpheum Building at Main and Beale was not the first to have the name "Grand Opera".


Daily Appeal 1871

1864 Ad . NY Clipper

1875 Commencement

Greenlaw History:  Large PDF file


Daily Appeal 1870

Daily Ap 1865 Daily Appeal 1868 Daily Ap 1869

Daily Appeal 1872


Daily Appeal - 1866  

NY Sun 1869

 Greenlaw FIRE 1883

Daily Appeal 1869

  The Greenlaw Opera is covered on a separate page of the website ... Click Here



Historic Memphis Website 



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