In the foreground is the Palace Grand Theater which opened in gala style July 1899. Structurally, the theatre was a combination of a luxurious European Opera House and a boomtown dance hall. It was built by “Arizona Charlie Meadows”, a wild west showman who came to Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Palace Grand played host to a variety of entertainment, from wild west shows to opera. When the show got slow “Arizona” himself would get on stage and perform shooting tricks for the audience.
With the gold strike in Nome, Alaska in the latter part of 1899, the excitement in Dawson City died as quickly as it rose. Over the next few years Dawson City made the transition from gold rush boomtown to a smaller mining community. With the steady decline in population, Arizona Charlie Meadows sold the Palace Grand Theatre in 1901 for $17,000, less than a third of the initial cost. After this first sale, the theatre changed hands a number of times over the years and often hosted community events.
The Palace Grand Theatre was saved from destruction by the Klondike Visitor’s Association in 1959 and was donated to the National Historic Parks branch of the Canadian government, who began replication of the theatre in the early 1960’s. Today’s Palace Grand theatre is the home of the “Gaslight Follies” whose entertainment is reminiscent of that which the theatre hosted in it’s hey-day.
Note the present day wooden sidewalks and dirt streets which are required throughout the town by town by-laws to maintain the “authenticity” of Dawson City.