MARK TWAIN
TACOMA
August 12, 1895
On arriving in Tacoma they hired
a Horse and Carraige to hurry
them up to again be with their
group in the
 Northern Pacific Railroad Office Building.

Early, on the morning of August 12, Twain and Pond
 caught a local train in Olympia, bound for Tacoma,
the Olympia & Tumwater, Port Townsend Southern
and Northern Pacific.

The city of Tacoma and
surrounding areas
were inhabited for thousands
of years by Native Americans,
 predominantly the Puyallup people,
who lived in settlements on the delta.
 
In 1852, a Swede named Nicolas Delin
constructed a sawmill powered by
water  on a creek near the head of
Commencement Bay,
 but the small
settlement that grew up around it
was abandoned during
the Indian War of 1855-56.
TWAIN
The railroad's offices were housed in buildings
at Ninth and C Streets, the center of what
is now the Tacoma Theater District but what
was, at the time, a sparse hillside.   It was
while working in that office that Hosmer envisioned
a grand theater for his newly-‐adopted city,
one befitting the thriving metropolis he believed
 it would surely become.

Even as his health began to fail and he stepped
 down from his position with the railroad, Hosmer
 worked to ensure that the land was not sold
while he gathered a group of investors.  
 In 1888 the Tacoma Opera House Company
was incorporated, funded by $10,000 donations
 from each of 11 prominent Tacoma citizens:
John S. Baker, Allen C. Mason, W.B. Blackwell,
 W.H. Fife, W.D. Tyler, George Browne,
Nelson Bennett, General J.W. Sprague,
C.P. Masterson, and C.B. Zabriskie.  

The building lot Hosmer championed
has an odd shape and, as is common in
downtown Tacoma, sits on a hill,
giving the building somewhat
 unusual dimensions:
 67 feet along the front façade on Ninth;
120 feet along the back façade;
174 feet on the largest side, facing Broadway;
and 165 feet on the alley side, now Opera Court.
 The architectural style was described as
Modern Romanesque, but true to the style of
 J.M. Wood and his team, there were so
many unique elements to the structure
 that it defied an exact definition.  
 

The exterior walls of the first story were
rough-‐faced blue-‐gray sandstone from the
 Bellingham Bay quarries, while the upper floors
were a vibrant red brick.  The building had a
modest amount of terra-‐cotta tile embellishment
 around doorways and windows. 
One particularly notable feature was the
port cochere that extended 25 feet into the street,
enabling horse-‐drawn carriages to pull up under
cover as people entered the theater.
 The Tacoma Daily News was eager to point out
 that only in Tacoma and Paris were theaters
grand enough to have such a feature.

The seating capacity was
 1,200: 600 on the auditorium floor,
 320 in the balcony, and 280 in the gallery.
 The stage dimensions-70 feet wide, 42 feet deep,
 56 feet high from floor to ceiling,
with an additional 20 feet of working depth below
the stage-supported the claim trumpeted in the
press that the Tacoma Theatre offered the
 "largest stage on the Pacific coast."
It required a staff of eight strong men to operate
the curtains and scenery sets handling over
10,000 feet of line for the scenes and 1,400 feet
of steel wire rope for the drop curtains.

A sampling of the more famous visitors to
 the Tacoma Theatre during its earliest decades
reads  like a who's who of the entertainment world:
 Mark Twain, Harry Houdini,
John and Ethel Barrymore, John Philip Sousa,
 Sarah Bernhardt, Al Jolson, and the list goes on.  

TACOMA THEATRE:  "The Finest Temple on the Coast"  by Kim Davenport
Work began on the Tacoma Theatre in 1888, but the vision for the theater dates back to 1873, when Tacoma was   selected as the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad.   In 1874 the railroad established the Tacoma Land   and Improvement Company and named Theodore Hosmer as its general manager.   
Hosmer and his family moved from Philadelphia to Tacoma that same year.

The theater was booked for multiple nights each week for 35 years. There are undoubtedly many other significant events and visitors that have been lost to history. The theater closed in 1925 for a dramatic transition: a conversion from performance venue to film venue.  
The theater's interior was completely gutted and refurbished. The stage became smaller to increase the seating capacity from 1,200 to 1,600 and the entrance moved to accommodate a larger ticket booth. An elevator and projection booth were added. The facility reopened in 1927 as the Broadway Theatre.
Mark Twain in Tacoma
Tacoma Daily News made the public aware
of Twains Talk In Tacoma.

"Grit City Magazine"
And to a reporter in Tacoma he joked,
"Really, your scenery is wonderful. It's quite out of sight."

Only Comments of August 12th talk seem to be available for me to display here.
Tacoma Daily News 1895: August 13 Mark Twain at the Tacoma Theatre.
Mark had a crowded house last night. Tacoma's very best people were out in force to listen to him,
and they were ready to laugh upon the slightest provocation. That is, the most of them were.
There were some very intelligent people in the audience who were unable to swing into line with Mark's
peculiar kind of humor and they looked tired, too tired even to smile. But he tickled the risibility's of all the rest,
and they enjoyed themselves thoroughly and paid no attention to the folks who were too opaque to appreciate the fun.
His evening in Tacoma was a big success.
TWAIN  
Monday, August 12th, Tacoma, Wash. -- The Tacoma
I had trouble in settling at the Opera House; the manager is a scamp. I expected trouble, and I had it. The Tacoma Press Club gave "Mark" a reception in their rooms after the lecture, which proved to be a very bright affair. "Mark" is finding out that he has found his friends by the loss of his fortune. People are constantly meeting him on the street,  at halls, and in hotels, and telling him of the happiness he has brought them -- old and young alike. He seems as fresh to the rising generation as he is dear to older friends. Here we met Lieutenant-Commander Wadhams, who is executive officer of the Mohican, now in Seattle harbor. He has invited us all on board the man-of-war to dine to-morrow,  and we have all accepted.
TWAIN