The Tabor Opera House was built in 1879 by Horace Austin Warner Tabor, one of Colorado's most well known mining magnates. It was one of the most costly and most substantially-built structures in Colorado history. The construction materials used to build the Tabor Opera House were not available in Leadville, so HAW Tabor ordered that they be brought up by wagons... a tedious task. Nevertheless, the Tabor was completed in only 100 days from the date of ground-breaking which was a record time.
The massive 3-story opera house was constructed of stone, brick and iron, and trimmed with Portland cement. It's solid brick walls stand 16 inches thick! The color scheme used was red, gold, white and sky-blue, with the blending beauty of everything fully revealed by 72 jets of brightly burning gas lights. This substantial construction has weathered the test of time, and stands today as a proud monument to Colorado history.
Since HAW Tabor's time, the opera house has hosted many notable talents. Among the most notable have been Houdini, John Philip Sousa, Oscar Wilde, and Anna Held.
Evelyn Livingston Furman - 1913 to 2011
Evelyn Furman arrived in Leadville as a nanny for her Geology Professor's children in the summer of 1933 on what was to be a summer adventure of learning geology and tending the children. Instead she fell in love with Leadville and a miner named Gordon Furman and choose to remain in this boom and bust mining community. She and Gordon lived for a while in a miner's cabin just above the famous Matchless Mine where Baby Doe still lived. Soon after their marriage Gordon lost his right arm in a mining accident. Evelyn decided that she needed to add to the household income and borrowed money from her mother-in-law to buy a Maytag wringer washer. She went door to door and sold that machine and went back and bought two and sold them... over the years she became a premier dealer for Maytag , Hoover and Drexel..
When the Tabor Opera House was placed on the market by the Elks in 1954 Evelyn's love for history, particularly the Tabor History, her eye for restoration of past treasures and a pioneer spirit that believed she could accomplish anything pushed her to place a bid on the Opera House. In December of 1954 the Elks voted to sell her the Opera House. Thus began an adventure that she and her family has been involved in for 59 years. She personally ran the Opera House until 84 years of age, then turned the controls to her daughter Sharon Furman Bland and her husband Bill.
Evelyn never stopped loving the Opera House and the story of the Tabor's. She authored three books that are available for purchase in the Merchandise tab on this web site or at the Opera House. These books tell the story of the Opera House, Augusta Tabor and Silver Dollar Tabor. Evelyn received many awards and accolades during her 98 years of life. Truly she epitomized the pioneer spirit that believed there was always a way to get it done. The tabs under this section will give a brief glimpse into a great lady of Leadville.
Evelyn was a:
In keeping with the vision to revive the opera house as a community hub, local high school drama students will serve as interpreters for summer tours with scripts in the voices of Leadville historical characters written by Colorado historical fiction author Donna Baier Stein.