Grand Opera House, Meridian

Meridian, MS

The Grand Opera House of Meridian, Mississippi was built in 1889 by Architect G. M. Torgenson and the interior was designed by J. B. McElfatrick. Originally the opera house was built as a secondary business and was actually on the second floor of the department store owned and ran by I. Marks and Levi Rothenberg. Marks and Rothenberg wanted to assist in making Meridian more artistically and culturally rich. The Grand Opera House did not just serve as a space for operas, but rather showcased all types of shows and performances including vaudeville. The Grand Opera House closed its doors in 1927 until 2000 when the theater received funding for the major renovations that were required to restore the theater back to its former glory.

During the restoration process, EverGreene discovered 49 different types of wall fabric coverings dated from 1890-1923. During this specific time period, there were three major decorative campaigns, making this project highly complex. It was important to the city and to EverGreene to fully document and archive all of the findings. EverGreene served as the primary contractor for the interior restoration of the 1889 Grand Opera House, originally designed by J.B. McElfatrick. A historic finishes investigation of three significant decorative campaigns (1890, 1901, and 1923) was conducted, comprised of historic wallpapers, paper maché, composition ornament, fabric, painted plaster, painted wood and natural-finished wood on the walls and ceiling surfaces throughout the auditorium, lobbies, and dressing rooms of the Opera House. Twenty-five of the existing historic wallpapers were chosen for conservation or replication.

EverGreene also, with help from the research team at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, identified the historic wallpapers and eventually, in order to recreate the wallpapers, EverGreene used a variety of methods to recreate many of the fabrications, which included:

  • Metallic and glitter finishes applied with traditional and modern silk-screen techniques on digitally printed papers or hand-finished papers
  • Reproduction of flock-on-flock patterns
  • Flocking on digitally printed replicas of hand-blocked trompe l’oeil
  • Reproduction of anaglypta (imitation tooled leather) by casting methods and hand-painted decorative finishes
  • Hand-painted metallic gazed finishes on woven textured paper
  • Hand-painted decorative finish backgrounds for silk-screened patterns on paper
  • Digital artwork and production to replicate colors and textures of hand-blocked and machine-printed papers, including florals, geometrics, trompe l’oeil, damask, trellis, mottling, textured faux finish, craquelure, and appliqué