Grand Opera House papers now at MSU

Papers chronicling an historic turn-of-the-century theater and an iconic East Mississippi business are new collections of the Mississippi State University Libraries.

Records and other material from Meridian's Grand Opera House of Mississippi Inc. and the adjacent Marks Rothenberg Department Store recently were donated in a ceremony at the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts.

Both collections are expected to be important resources for historians of American theater and business, said MSU-Meridian history professor Dennis Mitchell.

"The Grand Opera House collection analyzes national trends in theater between 1890 and 1927 and traces the decline of theater and the rise of movies in America," he explained. "Historians studying business will find the Marks Rothenberg records of family management a rich resource and can use them to chronicle the evolution of corporate practices."

In addition, urban history researchers will be able to use the collection to study dramatic changes in some of the Queen City's most historic buildings and their various utilizations over time, Mitchell said.

In a multi-year, $25-million renovation project funded by the Riley Foundation and local, state and federal agencies, the Grand Opera House reopened in 2006 as the Riley Center. Now owned and operated by the university, the complex has served as a catalyst for the revitalization of the downtown area.

For additional information about the collections, contact university archivist Michael Ballard at 662-325-7680 or For more about MSU Libraries, visit

PHOTO: Participating in the recent donation to MSU of papers from two historic Meridian structures were (l-r) Gregory Hatcher, vice president, Grand Opera House of Mississippi Inc.; Frances Coleman, dean, MSU Libraries; Dennis Mitchell, professor, MSU-Meridian; Harold "Nick" Nichols, retired dean, MSU-Meridian; Margaret Remy, president, Grand Opera House; and Mark E. Keenum, president, MSU. Photo by Jim Tomlinson/MSU Libraries

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