Lannons Opera House stood at the southwest corner of King and Pitt streets from the mid-1880s and housed a restaurant on the first floor and theatre area on the second. Audiences were treated to dramas, comedies and musicals, as well as concerts, but the space also served as a public meeting hall.
In 1885, when former Union general and President Ulysses Grant died, Mayor John B. Smoot called a meeting at Lannons Opera House where he issued a proclamation offering sympathies of the Nations loss in the death of General Grantwho defended the officers and men of the army of Virginia after the surrender, and added that we as Virginians should give public expressions of our regret at his death.
In 1891, African-American citizens celebrated the 28th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at Lannons. According to publisher Magnus Robinson, the handsome edifice was crowded, both floors groaning under the weight of the assemblage. Every orchestra chair was filled with the fair sexthe grand stage was well arranged; the scenery being grand and imposing.
The following year, members of both races turned out to see Madame Sissieretta Jones perform at Lannons. Jones, a black concert singer who was compared favorably to international opera star Adelina Patti, entertained a large audience including a large number of white citizens at Lannons, reported the Washington Bee.