Blind Tom played at Antoinette Hall in May 1871. Born into slavery, he was a musical phenomena who made the equivalent of millions of dollars for his handlers in the years after the Civil War. He was the most famous pianist of the 19th century. His story if fascinating and incredibly sad. The Elton John song, "The Ballad of Blind Tom", from his 2013 album "The Diving Board" is about Blind Tom.
The actress Katie Gilbert who was appearing at Antoinette Hall in May 1871 was performing Fanchon, the Cricket, a play based on a French novel published in the 1840s. It was later made into the only movie that starred Mary Pickford and both her sisters.
On Feb. 2, 1893, Lillian Lewis appeared at Antoinette Hall. Lewis, was born in Coudersport, Penn., as Katherine (Kate) Lillian Manley. She was employed for several terms as teacher in both Emporium and Shippen and considered to be a scholar with an energetic and pleasing disposition. Her first appearance on the stage was in 1882 when she played Marianne in The Two Orphans at the Fifth Avenue Theater, N.Y.
After three years of success in various companies, she organized a company of her own and entered upon a successful career as a star at the People's Theater. New York, in the autumn of 1885. She chose the part of Cora in Article 47 for her introduction to the public on that occasion, and was well received.
The Antoinette Club performed the 1846 one-act farce by English playwrite John Maddison Morton as reported by The Pulaski Citizen April 6, 1871.
Oct. 29, 1874, The Pulaski Citizen described the dance at Antoinette Hall Opera House. It provides a great description of social life during that period. Above is an 1874 fashion plate.
Center for the Arts
Lillian Lewis Performed at Antoinette Hall in 1893
In 1893 a new manager for Antoinette Hall, A. M. Notgrass, scheduled Kings Comedy Company to perform Little Lord Fauntleroy on the stage in Pulaski.
The Pulaski Citizen published this ad and article promoting Blind Tom's performance.
The Athens Post is asking in The Pulaski Citizen on May 18, 1871, when the Antoinette Club is coming to Athens, Ala., to perform.
In addition she played the principal woman in Camille, The Lady of Lyons, An Unequal Match, The New Magdalen, Frou-Frou and Adrienne Lecouvreur. In 1888 she married Lawrence Marston, an American actor, playwright, producer, stage director and film director, who had been for some time her leading man.
Marston continued to act the principal men of her plays, managed her business and adapted and wrote plays for her. By his work her repertory was increased with productions such as As in a Looking Glass, Doña Sol, Credit Lorraine, Lady Lil, Good-by, Sweetheart, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, An Innocent Sinner, For Liberty and Love and The Widow Goldstein.
The last three were the joint work of Mr. and Mrs. Marston. Her last appearance was in St. Louis, April 27, 1898. The last year of her life was passed in seeking relief from consumption. Above is a photograph of her.
While only a few years earlier Antoinette Hall was the scene of a grand conference showcasing the grape and wine industry, by the 1890s the Temperance Movement had begun. The Hall was often used for lectures about the evils of alcohol.
"Our Confederate Dead" lecture, June 23, 1874.
Blind Tom - Prodigy
William Elbert Munsey
If it were October 1872, you might be planning a night at Antoinette Hall for a Grand Opera to be held Oct. 24, 1872.
The Gilbert Sisters
A performer in the early years of Antoinette Hall was a very young illusionist who was using the stage name of DeCastro. His real name was Frederick Bancroft, and he became very popular as a magician in the 1880s and 1890s. He died of typhoid in 1897 when he was only 34. This is a promotional poster from the 1890s that would have been used to promote his show.
Not all performances at the Opera House were well received. The Davenport brothers in 1871 did not impress. The Davenports' most famous effect was the box illusion. The brothers were tied inside a box which contained musical instruments. Once the box was closed, the instruments would sound. Upon opening the box, the brothers were tied in the positions in which they had started the illusion. Those who witnessed the effect were made to believe supernatural forces had caused the trick to work. Their "spirit cabinet" was investigated by the Ghost Club, who were challenging their claim of being able to contact the dead.The impresario P. T. Barnum included an exposé of the Davenports in his 1865 book The Humbugs of the World.
The Halcyon Club's ball the first week of February 1874 was a success. The fashion plate from February 1874 shows what the ladies could have been wearing.
William Elbert Munsey, Famous Methodist Preacher, spoke in Feb. 1874. Numerous books include his sermons and biographical information.
A Conjugal Lesson was a comic play in one act by H. Danvers presented on April 1, 1871, at the Opera House by the Antoinette Club, a local theater club.
Opera House built in 1868 on the historic square in Pulaski, Tennessee
Grand Concert –Italian Opera