Birdcage Theater (Ghost Adventures) - Ghost Adventures confronts the spirits of the Old West in
Tombstone, AZ. The Bird Cage Theater embodied the heyday of the silver
boom. Legendary gunslingers, gamblers and prostitutes drank and died in
the theater, and some even stayed to haunt it.
The Bird Cage
Theatre was a combination theater, saloon, gambling parlor and brothel
that operated from 1881 to 1889 in Tombstone, Arizona during the height
of the silver boom.
The Bird Cage Theatre was opened on December
25, 1881 by William Billy Hutchinson and his wife Lottie. Its name
apparently referred to the 14 cages or boxes that were situated on two
balconies on either side of the main central hall.
These boxes (also
referred to as cribs) had drapes that could be drawn while prostitutes
entertained their clients. The main hall contained a stage and orchestra
pit at one end where live shows were performed.
The Bird Cage
Theatre operated continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the
next 8 years. It gained a reputation as one of the wildest places in the
country, prompting The New York Times to report in 1882 that "the Bird
Cage Theatre is the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street
and the Barbary Coast". More than 120 bullet holes are evident
throughout the building.
Aside from Lillian Russell, many other
famous entertainers of the day were alleged to have performed there over
the years, including Eddie Foy, Sr., Lotta Crabtree and Lillie Langtry.
In 1882, Fatima allegedly performed her belly-dancing routine at the
Bird Cage Theatre.
The basement poker room is said to be the site
of the longest-running poker game in history. Played continuously 24
hours a day for eight years, five months, and three days, legend has it
that as much as 10 million dollars changed hands during the marathon
game, with the house retaining 10 percent. Some of the participants were
Doc Holliday, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, and George Hearst. When
ground water began seeping into the mines in the late 1880s the town
went bust, the Bird Cage Theatre along with it. The poker game ended and
the building was sealed up in 1889.
The building was not opened
again until it was purchased in 1934, and the new owners were delighted
to find that almost nothing had been disturbed in all those years. It
has been a tourist attraction ever since, and is open to the general
public year-round, from 8am to 6pm daily.