Hornellsville (now Hornell), after 1850 a major waypoint on the New York and Erie Railroad, hosted several significant freethought events. The Shattuck Opera House opened to the public on Broad Street in 1873. With 1000 seats on the third floor of the building it occupied, the Shattuck was Hornellsville's largest auditorium. Among other things, it was the scene of three lectures by agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll.
On September 24, 1879, Ingersoll delivered "The Mistakes of Moses," one of his most popular and controversial lectures on religion, at the Shattuck.
The New York Freethinkers Association, despite its name a national organization, held conventions in Hornellsville on September 2–6, 1880, and again in 1881. Both events are thought to have been held at the Shattuck. The 1880 convention was described by the New York Times as "the largest and most important convention of the kind ever held in the country." Speakers included Ingersoll, famed abolitionist, atheist, and reformer Elizur Wright, nationally prominent atheist activist Thaddeus Burr Wakeman, and Lucy N. Colman. During the 1880 convention, Ingersoll lectured on September 5 at the Shattuck, delivering his controversial oration "What Must I Do to Be Saved?".
On May 5, 1894, Ingersoll made his final appearance at the Shattuck, once more presenting "What Must I Do to Be Saved?".
By 1914 the Shattuck had converted to exhibiting motion pictures. By 1926 it was known as the Shattuck Theatre. It closed around 1930 and was demolished at an unknown date.
Today the Shattuck's location is remembered informally by Opera House Lane, a pedestrian walkway off Broadway Mall (the former Broad Street). The Shattuck's footprint now contains a small veterans' park and a nondescript building.