The Definitive Resource Of Oscar Wilde's Visits To America

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(Smith's) Opera House

Wednesday, March 8, 1882

The Decorative Arts


Newspaper report

The Daily Republican (Decatur), Feb 2, 1882, 3

Ad. Corrected 

Originally advertised as 'The English Renaissance', but, owing to the smaller houses, Wilde had written to his manager, Col.W. F. Morse in early March to say:

"Kindly see that I am not advertised to lecture on 'The English Renaissance'. I have not delivered that lecture since February 11, and yet I am always advertised for it. It is very annoying, and besides, 'The English Renaissance' is printed in the Seaside, so people think they know it, and stay away. The lecture is on "The Decorative Arts'..." [1]

These two advertisements for the Decatur lecture show that Wilde's requested was heeded. although not quite with the precise title he suggested. See also The Decorative Arts.


The Daily Republican (Decatur), Mar 3, 1882, 2

The Daily Republican (Decatur), Mar 8, 1882, 2


(Smith's) Opera House

200 block of North Water Street (West side; the entrance is now No. 225), Decatur, IL

Built: 1870 (Edward. O. Smith)

Operating until: 1889 (when the Powers Grand Opera House opened)

Last performance: May 29, 1889 (Frederick Warde's The Mountebank) and immediately thereafter converted for business purposes [1]

[1] Decatur Weekly Republican (Decatur, IL), June 6, 1889, 5

Decatur Weekly Republican (Decatur, IL) March 9, 1882, 1


The New Deming Hotel

Old Square (now Lincoln Square),, NW Corner, Decatur, IL

Originally: 1860, an unfinished hotel building (Rev. W. S. Crissey)

Completed by: Franklin Priest as the Priest Hotel

Renamed: 1881, The New Deming Hotel

Wilde’s room: Parlor No. 72

Renamed: 1892, The Arcade Hotel (Augustine Wait)

Renamed: 1900, The Decatur Hotel

Partially destroyed (fire): 1904, rebuilt with four floors

Destroyed (by fire): 1915

Fire destroyed the Decatur Hotel (formerly Wilde’s hotel, the New Deming) on April 21, 1915. Visible also are the seven story Arcade Building, also destroyed, and to the left, the iconic Transfer House which was moved from the square in November 1962.

The Decatur Daily Review, Feb 5, 1967, 43

Oscar Wilde In America | © John Cooper, 2024