Co-manager/co-owner of Iroquois Theatre in Chicago,
Harry Joseph Powers (1859-1941), was born in
Ireland. He came to Chicago with his parents as a
1885 he married Mary Frances Deegan (1862 - 1939)
from Nova Scotia and they had three children. (Mary's
parents were Patrick Deegan and Mary Elizabeth B.
O'Rourke, both from Ireland.) Mary is buried in the
Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, IL.
Powers' theater career began as an eighteen-year-old
usher at Hooley's Theatre in Chicago.
He rose through the ranks there and five years
after Richard M. Hooley's 1893 death leased the
location for ten years. The Hooley family wanted more
for the continued use of the Hooley name than Powers
wanted to pay so he renamed it: Powers Theatre.
Powers refurbished the theater to lower the
orchestra pit, replace seats with wider ones and add
exits. The new Powers Theatre opened in Aug, 1898,
performing Clyde Fitch's play "The Moth and the
Flame," played by Herbert Kelcey and Effie Shannon.
Powers was also a director in the Davis-Hayman
theater company that preceded the Iroquois.
Powers family lived at 4843 Grand Blvd., nearby
J. Davis' home at 4740 Grand Blvd. Both men were
devout Catholics but while Davis was a Republican,
Powers was an Independent. After the Iroquois
Theatre fire, Powers' star rose within the theater
syndicate and in Chicago. In 1913 Powers was
appointed by the Illinois governor and Chicago mayor
to the board of directors for Bell Telephone.
Dec 30, 1903 Powers' theater was presenting John
Drew staring in "Captain Dieppe."
hour before the Iroquois Theater fire started,
Powers was there with a newspaper reporter
discussing ticket scalping.
Powers planned a large theater party for her
daughters, Josephine Mary Powers (b.1886) and
Rosina Marie Powers (1888-1989) for Saturday, Jan 2,
1904. Presumably the party was cancelled after the
fire. The Powers lived comfortably. In 1910 their
household included two servants and a chauffeur.
Daughter Rosina would live to one hundred years of
age, raise nine children
and campaign for Al Smith at the 1932 Democratic
convention – while her father in law, former
Chicago mayor and Illinois governor, Edward F.
Dunne, campaigned for Smith's opponent and winner of
the party's nomination – Franklin D. Roosevelt. Harry's son, Harry J. Powers Jr., died in Sept, 1941
at Miami Beach.