The following tour of a property room at the Grand Theater in Saint Paul, MN, first appeared in The Saint Paul Globe in 1902. This is the third selection from that article, with the first appearing here, and the second here.
The visitor decided she had acquired the taste for property rooms and dropped in at the Grand. The big stage was dark and deserted. At one end there stood a tall, rickety-looking arrangement with a bell at the top.
“It’s what the lady swings out on,” explained a voice from the gloom.
“In the ‘Heart of Maryland,’ you know,” the voice further vouchsafed.
“Is it what you would call a ‘prop?'” queried the visitor.
“Yes, it’s a ‘prop,'” admitted the voice which happened to belong to the Property Man of the Grand. The visitor asked for the property room, and after she had surveyed it she was willing to admit that there were property rooms and property rooms. The property room at the “Met” is picturesque in its disorder. The property room of the Grand is distractingly neat and beautifully decorated in red. The room is triangular in shape, very, very tiny and distinctly ornate. It is just the sort of room in which one would expect to have pink tea served. But not at all the kind of room in which one would expect to find housed all kinds of odd, dirty, quaint, delightful and smelly things. And, as a matter of fact, none of these things are housed here. For this tiny, scarlet room is only one of the property rooms of the Grand. There are four others, one in the “fly gallery”—the Property Man’s expression—and the others tucked away in unexpected places at either side of the big stage. But in spite of the many articles stored away in them all were spick and span like the first property room.
“We keep things very neat here,” explained the property man with pardonable pride.
The visitor agreed and suppressed a wild desire to destroy the spick and span effect. To punish herself she went back and gazed once more at the room “done in red.” This room is partly Oriental and partly American. A swinging Oriental lamp burns redly in one corner. A similar lamp throws a faint light from a curtained niche. A cabinet holds dainty bits of china. A long table is doubtless intended to hold the various “props” that are to be used in the play that is on, but at the time of the visitor’s visit it held only an elaborately gilded clock and a very large vase, so variously decorated that it made one wink to look at it. For a fresco about the walls there is a row of photographs of actors and actresses.
“It’s always just like this,” the Property Man assured here convincingly. “Come here any time of the day or night and you’ll find it just the same.”
Originally published in The Saint Paul Globe, February 23, 1902, page 22.