Plays alid Players at Pillot's
JOSEPH S. GALLEGLY
E UGENE PILLOT'S ANNOUNCEMENT ON JANUARY 17, 1879, that
he had bought and would "refit, refurnish, and rechristen"
the old Perkins' Opera House was welcome news to
Houston theatre-goers. Since the burning of the splendid city-hall-
opera house three years before, there had been a dearth of stage
entertainment in the city. Pillot was described in the city directory
of 1879 simply as a capitalist; he was later to admit that he knew
nothing about theatrical promotion. What Houston needed at the
time was a man who was willing to spend enough money to fit
out and manage a respectable playhouse-even if he would not
furnish a new building. Pillot's proposal would at least satisfy
these modest requirements.
The renovated Perkins' Opera House would have a new audi-
torium, a dress circle for ladies, and a parquet for gentlemen ac-
companied by ladies. Eight hundred opera chairs had been ordered
to replace the antiquated benches of these sections. The upper
gallery was to be rebuilt, and a "sunlight" put in the center of
the new ceiling. The stage would be enlarged-an essential change
-with new dressing-rooms, scenery and curtains. E. J. Duhamel
was named as the architect, and Charles Evans, well-known scenic
artist of Galveston, would do the decorating. The whole project
as it was first planned would cost close to $8,ooo. Pillot declared
that he would have one of the costliest drawing room theatres in
the Southwest. The proposed playhouse was to be under his per-
sonal managment, and it was his intention to send a business man-
iThis building was also referred to as the Academy of Music, although only
the auditorium, on the second floor, was used for theatrical purposes. A description
of the structure is given in an encyclopedia of the period:
The city hall and market house of brick, just finished  at a cost of $4oo,ooo,
is 272 ft. long by 146 ft. wide, and has two towers, 14 by 2i ft. and 114 ft. high.
It contains a hall, 70 by 11o ft, fitted up for public entertainments and capable of
seating 1,3oo persons. American Cyclopedia (New York, 1873-1876), IX, 15.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed August 31, 2015.