The Architecture of Henry F. Frazier


Nappanee, Indiana 46550, United States

Created By: Nappanee Public Library


In 1895, the Nappanee News published an article asking "Why not have an opera house?" The newspaper took that question to the street and asked many businessmen their opinions. In 1898, the news discussed how they had been asking for a town hall/opera house/hall for five to six years.

In 1899, there was another push to build a town hall. Harvey Coppes, Bernie Uline, and Chas Sweeny solicited $5,000 to secure funding for such a building. Daniel Zook claimed the present facilities used for public entertainment were a disgrace for an enlightened community such as Nappanee.

Daniel Zook approached the town of Nappanee in April of 1899 to move the Corner Hardware and Miller Harness shop. These buildings sat in the location where the Auditorium was eventually built.

The Auditorium was built in 1899 and H.F. Frazier was the architect. It was once called "The Finest Little Theater in Northern Indiana." It was financed by a public subscription.

The Auditorium Association was formed and they filed their official articles with Elkhart County in May of 1899. It was formed to create, maintain, and operating a suitable building for public meetings. The capital stock of the association was $6000 divided into 1200 shares of $5 each.

The Auditorium officially opened in December 1899. Opening night seats were auctioned off to the highest bidders from the first choice down - the auction started at about $3 in the boxes down to $1 for ordinary seats. The first night the house brought in a little over $450.

From it opening until World War I, it hosted the Nappanee Orchestra, locally-produced shows, band concerts, recitals, graduationns and so much more.

The Auditorium burned down on January 17, 1937. After the Auditorium burned down, there was a question of ownership. Bessie Huffman made a claim to ownership. It was found that the Auditorium Association only had ownership of the 2nd floor whereas Bessie Huffman owned the 1st floor. It was determined that the Association could build a 2nd floor on top of whatever replaced the building if allowed. Bessie Huffman was given a clear title to the spot and sold it to Henry Maust.

The Auditorium Association deemed that they would not rebuild and the $1500 (roughly $26,000 in 2019) in insurance money would be given to the school, since stakeholders would only receive a few dollars.

This point of interest is part of the tour: The Architecture of Henry F. Frazier


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to