The Taylor Brothers performing The Fiddle and The Bow Series image from Tennessee State Archives
Jobe’s Opera House was opened 1884-1905 serving its purpose as a temporary courtroom, hosting high school graduations, and serving as a lecture hall for Governor Robert Love Taylor giving his famous lecture The Fiddle and the Bow. During Taylor’s governor campaign in the early 1890’s he was having financial struggles asking his brother Alfred for help he suggested giving lecture tours across the state, his first lecture took place at Jobe’s Opera House on December 29, 1891. After, Alfred Taylor left Congress he joined his brother on tour which was a huge success bringing in thousands of dollars. Robert and Alfred co-wrote Yankee Doodle and Dixie which was successful for them.
Front view of Jobe’s Opera House from the Johnson City Press
Jobe’s Opera house didn’t only serve as a lecture hall for the Taylor brothers it provided a place for sporting events, graduations, plays, and for a short period it served as a church and a home for businesses. The First Christian Church of Johnson City met in Jobe’s Opera House because their church along with several businesses were destroyed in a fire in 1905. Jobe’s provided a large space where everyone can come together think of it as the modern-day community center where everyone can come together no matter what background and enjoy time with one another along with providing entertainment. The place provided an atmosphere for high school graduations because during late 1800’s early 1900’s schools at the time were small and could not hold student plus family and friends, with Jobe’s Opera House 900 seat auditorium it was a great place to hold graduations. I mentioned that the opera house served as a courtroom for chancery court sessions because at the time the court house was being built, court cases can’t be stopped the setup of Jobe’s provided space for court to resume session.
Jobe’s Opera House was important to Johnson City because it not only served its purpose for entertaining, but served as a place to gather for worship for the Church of First Christian. Governor Taylor got his start at the opera house with his first lecture on The Fiddle and The Bow before going on his lecture tour. It served at a place where people can come and enjoy watching sports such as basketball because during that time period some schools did not have gyms, it allowed guys to play the game they loved without having to look for a place to play. When tragedy struck downtown Johnson City with a devastating fire that destroyed businesses Jobe’s opened its doors were owners and employees continue to work without missing a beat. With the 20th century fast approaching Jobe’s Opera House could not compete with motion picture and in 1907 had to close its doors along with the impact that it made. It was hard finding firsthand accounts because people from that period are long gone, but if they were here I would say that Jobe’s Opera House was a place that everyone can come together no matter what background to enjoy entertainment while serving may purposes as well.
Cox, Bobby New information about Jobe’s Opera House surfaces from reader from the Johnson City Press
Cox, Bobby Jobe’s Opera House Was City’s First Entertainment Mecca from the website https://www.bcyesteryear.com/node/99