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Malm Mural

History of the Auditorium

The auditorium, in which the first performance was staged on January 28, 1889, had two balconies and seated 900 persons. The second balcony had no fixed seating; patrons sat on the risers. In 1913, the auditorium was redecorated. The owners had the foresight to hire G. N. Malm for the project, a noted painter and writer affiliated with Bethany College in Lindsborg, 17 miles north of McPherson. In addition, Malm, along with his brother and Oscar Gunnerson, had a successful business that dealt in hand-cut stencils designed by Malm.

Malm painted the mural above the proscenium arch and designed the decorative stenciling that has been accurately recreated in the auditorium. During the 1925-1929 extensive remodeling of the Opera House, the decorative scheme devised by Malm was largely left intact but some of his work was painted over in an effort to “modernize” the interior.

The Auditorium Today

McPherson Opera House auditorium seating

Although the auditorium looks much as it might have after the 1913 remodel, everything, in fact, is new. The most dramatic change was rebuilding the second balcony, which restored the space to the much more pleasing architectural ensemble intended by the original architect, George Shaffer of Abilene.

The historically correct seating, provided by American Seating Co., has been sized to contemporary standards, and the auditorium, on its three levels, seats 488. EverGreene Painting Studios did preliminary work on the restoration of the mural and also uncovered, through a reveal window, the original 1888 stencil pattern, which has been recreated in the Grand Ballroom. Belle Restoration restored the mural and recreated the original 1913 G. N. Malm decorative scheme.

Built, as it was, before the advent of amplification, the auditorium has excellent natural acoustics, something immediately noticed by performers. In addition, the auditorium has been outfitted with a totally digital Tannoy sound system, the first in the United States. Cutting edge, too, is the video projection system. A Sim2 high definition video projector is coupled with a 20-foot screen specially optimized for high-definition video; at the time of its manufacture, the largest in the country. Image quality is stunning.

Auditorium Stage

The stage, 24 feet by 24 feet with a one-half-inch rake per foot, is fully equipped with high-end professional lighting. The performances at the McPherson Opera House look and sound spectacular. Want more information? Take a look at the technical specifications for the auditorium.

Victorian stencil used during the renovation of the McPherson Opera House

The McPherson Opera House,
with its six unique rental spaces used singly or in combination,
offers the perfect solution for every occasion, business or family.

219 South Main Street
PO Box 333
McPherson, KS 67460

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McPherson Opera House Auditorium McPherson Opera House Grand Ballroom NCRA Meeting Room Rose Morris Conference Room Mary Anderson Arts Center Room 1 Mary Anderson Arts Center Room 2

Host your next event at the McPherson Opera House for an artfully decorated setting, high-tech conveniences, and exceptional service. Centrally located off Interstate 135 – 50 miles north of Wichita – the McPherson Opera House offers a convenient destination for your next business meeting, family reunion, wedding reception, or other event. Please explore the Rental Facilities page for more information.