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November 11, 2019
 

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Sousa comes to Ada - Oct. 24, 1892

This combination city hall and theater stood on East Buckeye Avenue, the site of the current municipal building, between 1881 and 1930s

This article is the first of several pieces on the village’s history and written by members of The Ada Historical Society.

Sousa Comes to Ada - October 24, 1892

By Paul Logsdon, retired Ohio Northern University Librarian and Archivist
In Fall of 1892, a happy set of events brought John Philip Sousa and his Great Marine Corps. Band to Ada.

The first of these was the completion of the Ada Opera House 11 years earlier. This combination city hall and theater stood on East Buckeye Avenue, the site of the current municipal building, between 1881 and  1930s.

The second event occurred on July 30, 1892, in the nation’s capitol when Sousa retired from the U.S. Marine Corps. Band in favor of a commercial career based in Chicago. At a farewell concert the following day,  he was given a rousing send-off, He even premiered the Belle of Chicago March which was enthusiastically received.

The final element in Sousa’s Ada appearance was his performance on Oct. 21 in Chicago at the Dedication Day ceremony for the World’s Columbian Exposition.

The immense Manufactures and Liberal Arts Building in which they performed was, according to contemporary accounts, packed with perhaps one-hundred thousand persons. The excellent Pennsylvania and Ohio railroad connections of the day allowed Sousa to perform in a one-night stand in Ft. Wayne and then reach Lima, Ohio, on the 23rd, reaching Ada following day.

Sousa’s train pulled into Ada’s depot in time for an afternoon performance at the Opera House. Local newspapers, like the University Herald, tactfully noted that, while the audience was appreciative, the concert “...was not so well attended as it deserved.”  However, the band’s appearance at the Ada Opera House both helped the reputation of the opera as an entertainment venue and village as a cultural center.