Opera Printing Company

Opera Printing Company, Westminster Maryland

Opera Printing Company

A popular place for people to enjoy entertainment before motion pictures existed were the theater and theater type entertainment. While most of the bigger theaters in major cities would have the more popular shows, that did not stop the smaller towns from forming their own buildings for entertainment. One entertainer seems to have remained at a former theater today.

Westminster’s opera house, located at 140 East Main Street, was popular back in its early days. It was originally built in 1854 as The International Order of the Odd Fellows. It was known to host plays, performers, and a variety of live entertainment. After the civil war it was later renamed the Opera House. When motion pictures became popular, the Opera House changed with the times and became a movie theater in 1940. Over the years the building became a collection of businesses such as a warehouse for formal men’s wear and a grocery store. In 1975 the building was bought by the Trumps who established the Opera House Printing Company. The building was a printing company until December 1, 2009 when the business merged with Allegra and moved to an office in Sykesville.

During the early days as the Odd Fellows Hall one performer left a longtime mark on the city of Westminster. A comedian named Marshall Buell from Alabama did a performance one night in the early 1860s that was considered offensive to majority of his audience. The country was in the middle of the Civil War and Marshall made a poor decision to tell offensive jokes about the Union to a group that was made up of most North supporters. People began throwing objects at Marshall, including rocks that injured him. The local sheriff had to escort him from the building and Marshall revealed that the men who threw the rocks have followed him through multiple states and harassed him. The sheriff offered to protect him at the local jail until it was safe for him to leave but Marshall refused. That night Marshall was attacked behind the Opera House and murdered. Two different stories have been told about the details of his murder. One story says his throat was slit while the other version claims that his head was cut off and found on the post outside the Opera House a few days later.

After his death people began to claim of seeing a figure in the back of the Opera House. The figure seemed to be gesturing as a comedian would while performing, leaving the eyewitnesses to believe it is Marshall. Some stories say he is headless while others say his head is attached. When the Opera House Printing Company opened employees would claim hearing doors closing on their own, footsteps and other various strange activity. People say its Marshall trying to finish his performance that he was unable to complete.

References

Eldersburg.net (2009) Allegra Print and Imaging Merges with Opera House Printing [Electronic Version] retrieved from http://www.eldersburg.net/news/business/157-allegra-print-and-imaging-merges-with-opera-house-printing

Gallagher, T. (1988). Ghosts & Haunted Houses of Maryland.Tidewater Publishers, MD.

Graybill, M. (2007). Opera House’s War Days [Electronic Version]. The Baltimore Sun retrieved from http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2007-06-03/news/0705250055_1_opera-house-trump-civil-war

Okonowicz, E. (2010). The Big Book of Maryland Ghost Stories. Stackpole Books. Mechanicsburg, PA.

Ricksecker, M. (2010) Ghosts of Maryland. Schiffer Publishing. Atglen, PA.