4Improvements are needed in the historic Thompson Opera House in Pioche. In particular, the need for a much better sound system, and improving the upstairs area where meetings and productions are held.

Ed Wright, with the Pioche Chamber of Commerce, spoke to the Board of County Commissioners Jan. 5 about their desire to make the improvements, “but we don’t want to put a lot of money into in, then have the Commission come in there and take the $300 million building and put it somewhere else or tell us to get out of there,” he said.

The Chamber of Commerce operates the Opera House, but the County actually owns it.

Commissioners assured Wright they have no intention of taking the building from under the control of the Chamber.

“We are going to continue to add to the sound system,” Wright said. “It needs great work, with its high ceilings and such.”

Commissioner Paul Mathews said when microphones are used in the upper section, the echo is terrible.

“We have spent $2.8 million into that building and we want to be sure we aren’t putting money into projects the County does not really want to see happen at the building,” Wright said.

All the activities are held upstairs and there is no elevator, so a person either goes around the back or up the central staircase.

“We are spending money on the events we do hold there, to go back into that building,” Wright told Commissioners.

County Building Director Cory Lytle said the Chamber has a rental-lease agreement with the County. “The shows that they (the Chamber) get in is their deal. If it’s brick and mortar improvements, they donate for that. If they want to improve the sound system, that’s something else.”

Lytle said a new sound system, while not owned by the County, could be added into the County insurance coverage for building contents. “It’s a minor increase the County would take. We’re glad they are putting money back into it.”

Originally known as Brown’s Hall or Brown’s Opera House when it opened in 1873, it was later added to with the now long closed GEM movie theatre in 1937.

The Opera House was purchased by Alexander S. Thompson of Pioche in 1891.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. It is one of three 19th century theaters still functioning in Nevada.