The Elmira Opera House was the site of an 1868 lecture by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and two lectures, in 1878 and 1895, by the famed agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll.
On November 23, 1868, Twain delivered a lecture titled "The American Vandal" while he was in Elmira wooing Olivia Langdon, his future wife.
On February 25, 1878, Ingersoll delivered "The Liberty of Man, Woman, and Child," one of his most popular political lectures.
On April 23, 1895, Ingersoll delivered "About the Holy Bible," one of his controversial freethought lectures critical of traditional Christianity.
The Building and Site. The structure was erected in 1867 at a cost of $89,000. It seated 2,000 persons. It opened on December 17, 1867, with a temperance lecture. Later it was sold and remodeled; it reopened as the Lyceum Theatre in 1898. In 1904 it was lost in a cataclysmic fire that claimed one additional theater and six stores in downtown Elmira. The theater was rebuilt and opened, still as the Lyceum, in 1905. It closed in 1926 and was demolished in 1949.
The Opera House site is now occupied by Five Star Bank's downtown Elmira branch.
November 23, 1868