The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

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New York

City Opera House

Monday, February 6, 1882

The English Renaissance


Newspaper report

Utica Sunday Tribune, February 5, 1882, 1

Newspaper report Utica Sunday Tribune, February 5, 1882. Oscar Wilde lecture


Newspaper report

Reno Evening Gazette, February 7, 1882

Newspaper report Reno Evening Gazette, February 7, 1882. Oscar Wilde lecture


As to Lecture Subject

Around this time Wilde changed the name and content of his lecture.

Merlin Holland (Complete Letters) describes how Wilde's original lecture was 'too lengthy and theoretical for many in his audience' and that Wilde shortened and retitled it to give it wider appeal.

This explains why the two press clippings on this page indicate different subjects for the Utica lecture.

The new lecture became variously billed as Art Decoration, Decorative Art in America, etc., and it is probable that Wilde adapted them slightly to suit different audiences' (Holland). For this reason all variants of this lectures are listed in this chronology as 'The Decorative Arts'.

But when and where did Wilde switch from The English Renaissance to The Decorative Arts

In this lecture in Utica conducted 'under the auspices of the 'Household Art Rooms' there are suggestions Wilde had already begun to include material suggestive of a more domestic theme, and the transition does appear to have been an evolution. However, in accepting this, Kevin O'Brien in Oscar Wilde in Canada: An Apostle for the Arts (1982), posits that Wilde delivered The English Renaissance for the last time in Buffalo on February 8 and The Decorative Arts for the first time in Chicago (his next lecture) on February 13. This appears to be a convenient demarcation.

See here for a review of all Wilde's Lecture Titles.

City Opera House (part of City Hall). Oscar Wilde lecture Genesee and Pearl Streets, Utica, NY


City Opera House (part of City Hall)

Genesee and Pearl Streets, Utica, NY*

Cornerstone laid: 1852

Completed: 1853 as City Hall, containing a theatre

Architect: Richard Upjohn

Seating: 800-900

Demolished: 1968

* The Pearl Street where the City Hall stood no longer exists. [see inset below]

The site is now occupied by the Radisson stores on the corner of Washington Lane and Genesee Street. 



Wilde traveled to Utica in the drawing room car of the New York train arriving on the evening of the lecture - a little later than expected at 5:15 PM. He would have needed his famous olive green fur overcoat as he arrived amid banks of snow in the city.

Following the lecture to a "large and cultivated" audience he was given a reception at the home of former mayor Charles W. Hutchinson, and then entertained at the Utica Club. 

He departed Utica at 11:22 AM the next day, but no record has been found of his accommodation. 

The Daily Observer, (Utica, NY) Feb 7th, 1882.

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024