Magnolia Opera House


This extraordinary building has been a historic fixture in Warrensburg since 1889. It has served as a storefront for local businesses, originally starting off as a small copper shop. In 1889  W.H. Hartman and Isaac Markward built the current building at the cost of $18,000 (approx $540,000 today). The building was then leased to the Quarry City Orchestra and they subleased it. The opera area has a seating capacity of 800. In 1893 the opera house started having shows. The first floor was vacant except for a cabinet shop in the rear. In 1907 buggies and implements were being stored and sold on the first floor; the cabinet shop remained in the rear. Businesses also housed in this building included Vitt-Mayes-Garrison Manufacturing Company in 1932-1945 which became the Brookfield-Garrison Manufacturing Company in 1945-1963, and Unitog Company Office and Plant in 1967.


The Magnolia Mills building was the temporary morgue (minconception that it was the opera house), next to the railroad tracks after the 1904 World’s fair train wreck. Twenty-seven of the dead were taken out of the wreck and brought to Warrensburg on a flat car. It is said to have been the “bloodiest disaster in the history of the Missouri Pacific railroad” at the time. Thirty people were killed, including many children and 54 people were injured in the high speed collision at Bear Creek on October 10, 1904.

Santa Claus often made his headquarters here, as early as 1895.

The Magnolia Opera House hosted several musical groups back in its heyday, such as the Schubert Quartette and the Avelin Joslyn Company. It is difficult to discern if famous pianist “Blind Boone” ever actually performed at the Opera House as this location was typically a “whites only” establishment. Blind Boone played here at least two times.Johnson County Star (Warrensburg, Missouri) 06 May 1893, Sat

Political speakers such as D.A. DeArmound, a congressional candidate, would also come to the Opera House to promote their candidacies.

The building was converted to apartments and now houses many UCM students.


Two buildings comprise 145 W. Pine St. The east third of the building, constructed circa 1890, is a three-story two-part commercial block. Paired one-over-one double-hung vinyl windows with cast stone sills fill the second and third story bays. Projecting brick panels ornament the façade between the second and third stories. The west two-thirds of the building, constructed in 1889, was historically the Magnolia Opera House. A projecting cornice divides the first and second stories. On the first story; engaged stone pilasters divide the façade into two storefronts.