You are here

Thompson's Opera House (Brown's Opera House) and Gem Theater

-A A +A
Brown's Opera House
c. 1873, Aleck Brown. 1937, movie theater. Main St.
  • (Photograph by Julie Nicoletta)

Pioche's opera house is less fancy than those in Eureka and Virginia City, but it is one of the oldest surviving examples of the type in the state. Its simple wood-frame walls stand two stories tall, with a pedimented front-facing gable lending a classical touch. Originally a fulllength porch with upper balustrade embellished this structure, but it disappeared long ago. Above three double doors and a single door at street level, four pairs of doors once opened onto the top of the porch. The dilapi-dated building has stood vacant for a number of years. In 1937 the Gem Theater was built next door, with a wood structure connecting the roofs of the two buildings. The solid brick walls of the Gem contrast with the wood-sided walls of the opera house, emphasizing the poor condition of the latter structure. The Gem still shows movies using the original 1930s projecttion equipment.

In recent years members of the local community have worked to save the old opera house and use it as a cultural center. In 1996 a nonprofit group won a grant from the state's Commission for Cultural Affairs to undertake foundation work and structural stabilization to prepare for its transformation.

Writing Credits

Julie Nicoletta


What's Nearby


Julie Nicoletta, "Thompson's Opera House (Brown's Opera House) and Gem Theater", [Pioche, Nevada], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Nevada, Julie Nicoletta. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 254-254.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.