Delphi Opera House
Winner of the 2017 Cook Cup for Outstanding Restoration
In collaboration with Indiana Landmarks
Sponsored by Frank and Katrina Basile
The newest installment of the If These Walls Could Tell series features Bloomington storyteller David Matlack presenting the restoration saga of the Delphi Opera House in Carroll County. The Delphi Preservation Society won the Cook Cup for Outstanding Restoration in 2017 for its transformation of the landmark on Delphi’s courthouse square.
Storytelling Arts of Indiana Indiana Landmarks commissioned the story “The Oracle of Delphi: A Grand History of the Delphi Opera House” for If These Walls Could Tell, an annual program sponsored by Frank and Katrina Basile. The original storytelling series, now in its seventh year, focuses on a historic place in Indiana and the people who built, lived in, worked at patronized and restored the landmark.
In April 1882, the Lathrope & Ruffing Opera House opened in Delphi to a packed house of 500. The opera house was in constant use – often with two or three performances per week–until ti began showing its age and suffering in the competition with the earliest movie theaters. The final blow came in 1914, when the opera house, on the building’s third floor, was condemned as unsafe. It remained shuttered for the next 114 years.
In 1996, the Delphi Preservation Society bought the dilapidated building and launched a heroic, nearly 20-year effort to reclaim all three floors. The group restored the exterior and the interior’s stunning historic features and added essential modern amenities – an elevator, new restrooms, improved dressing rooms, plus a catering kitchen and meeting rooms. The project is widely credited with reviving Delphi’s historic downtown.
Storyteller David Matlack attended his first storytelling event in 1990. He found himself slowly introducing the use of stories while visiting schools as a veterinarian. Many years later he continues to tell stories as a member of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild.
Matlack wonfirst place at the 2016 Liar’s Contest on opening night of the Indiana State Fair and told ghost stories at Crown Hill Cemetery. He performed stories for Two Truths and a Lie at McCormick’s Creek State Park and Pokagon State Park in 2017. Dr. Matlack is on the faculty of the I.U. School of Medicine in Bloomington, where he coordinates physiology courses and directs the physiology laboratory.