Museum logo
Museum logo

Photo Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2010.039.001-.025
Caption 1981 IOOF/Opera House fire - 1111 6th St.
Description 25 color photographs/negatives of the fire at the "Opera House", 1111 6th Street on June 30, 1981. Three boys were playing with matches and candles just prior rto the start of the blaze.

NOTE: ANACORTES AMERICAN article for the week of July 8-14, 1981 reads:

"Youths admit cause
Historic building burns
Two Anacortes youths were taken into custody last week following a spectacular blaze on Tuesday, June 30 which totally destroyed a historic city landmark and damaged a nearby motel and several local homes.

The three boys, aged 10-12, reportedly admitted playing with matches and candles at the fire site just prior to the start of the blaze.

The fire started around 2 p.m. inside an all-wood structure near 6th and O known locally as the old "Opera House." That building, completely leveled by the fire, had been used in recent years for storage.

Also damaged was the adjacent San Juan Motel which had 13 of its 24 rooms damaged by fire, smoke and/or water. Motel owner Ron Foor, also owner of the Opera House, said Monday he hopes half the damaged rooms will be rentable again "within two weeks."

Also damaged by heat from the blaze were several homes located across the alley from the Opera House. One home sustained major exterior damage when the heat curled vinyl siding.

Total estimated damage, according to Anacortes Fire Chief Cecil Little was $250,000.

The Opera-era House had served as a warehouse for several decades, most recently for Anaco TV and Appliance, Bud Rock, and Foor himself. Little said Anaco lost about $50,000 worth of appliances.

Foor said he lost some mattresses and about 30 yards of carpeting, while Rock's losses included some lumber and personal possessions.

The Skagit County prosecutor will decide whether to bring charges against the three boys, who were released to their parents."

Message under a photograph by John Fortmeyer says, "With heat so intense it could be felt a block away, a roaring fire levels the historic old "Opera House" in Anacortes within an hour and a half on June 30. ..."

The Oddfellows Hall, also known as the I.O.O.F. Hall or I.O.O.F. /Opera House, was built on the south side of 6th Street between N and O in 1901 by the Anacortes chapter of the Independent Order of Oddfellows. The I.O.O.F. was founded in England in the 1600s to do good works, one of the few "safety nets" available to families in time of need. Its members were so-named because it was considered odd for men to organize and give aid to those in need. The first lodge in the
U. S. formed in Baltimore in 1819. W. H. Burdon organized the Anacortes branch of the I.O.O.F. in 1891. The I.O.O.F. logo may be seen in the photo both above the front door and in the upper windows. The Oddfellows used the upper floor as their meeting hall and the lower floor was used as a theater. In December 1902, SEBRING'S SKAGIT COUNTY ILLUSTRATED (Mt. Vernon) stated, "It is claimed that Anacortes, in proportion to her population, is the strongest city in the U. S. as to Fraternal orders; and it is very certain that all of the well-known societies have strong lodges here; the representatives of the I.O.O.F. especially showing activity and progress in the erection last year of an opera house, the upper floors of which over the auditorium form lodge and refreshment rooms which are very attractive." On 3-22-1906, the ANACORTES AMERICAN reported that an addition was being built on the rear of the building because the Opera House, "needs more stage room and scenery room for traveling shows have much bigger sets now." On 4-5-1906, the paper reported the addition was completed. The building hosted many traveling variety shows and vaudeville acts. It is very possible that one of the two theater curtains in the museum's collection came from the building. See Museum Accession #2000.70.02. In February 1953, the paper reported that the Oddfellows had moved into a new meeting hall at 12th and O. The 6th Street building burned down in 1981.

Date 1981 June 30
Photographer ANDERSON, Winston
Subjects Disaster - Fire
Organization - Fraternal
Place - Anacortes, WA
Structure - Business
Credit line Donated by Win Anderson, August 2010
Place Anacortes, WA
Search Terms 1111 6th Street
Opera House
Independent Order of Oddfellows
I.O.O.F. Hall
I.O.O.F. Opera House
Object Name Print, Photographic