In 1877-78, Wallace Leach, then one of San Diego’s prominent attorneys, built Leach’s Hall. It was erected on D Street (now Broadway) between First and Second Streets, directly opposite the present Spreckels Building. Leach constructed his one story, frame building for a bit more than $11,000. The hall was first opened as a gymnasium for the Crescent Athletic Club. By 1884 the population was nearing the 20,000 mark and the smaller and rather poorly equipped Horton’s Hall was rapidly becoming inadequate. Leach decided to convert the larger hall to a much-needed stage theatre. He ordered scenery from Chicago and began converting his gymnasium into what was to become Leach’s Opera House. The stage, though well lighted, was small and equipped with only the barest theatrical equipment. For its first few years, the house had benches instead of chairs. The floor and stage were flat. The acoustics and sight lines left much to be desired. It had a capacity of 1,100 — large for that day. Though plain in appearance, the house and stage were well lighted.

The theatre opened as Leach’s Opera House on July 17, 1884, with a performance by a local group calling itself The San Diego Minstrels. Its decline began after only its third year. During 1887 and 1888 it was in almost daily use by traveling road shows. In 1889 it was leased by James E. Wooley and J. M. Dodge, and renamed the D Street Theater. In the 1890 the building Was used by the Concordia Turnverein. It closed as the D Street Theatre in 1890 with a very poor performance by a variety troupe under the direction of Emille Million.

[adapted from an article by Jack Dodge in the History of San Diego ed. by Carl Heilbron, 1936 and a Thesis Presented to the Faculty of San Diego State College by Morgan Jackson Lane, June 1969, entitled “Commercial Theatre in San Diego with Special Emphasis 1892-1917”]

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