Colonel Noah Orr Temporary Art Installation

Location: 103 West Fifth Street

 

About the Project

August 10, 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of Marysville. In observance of this momentous occasion, Team Marysville, which serves as the community’s downtown revitalization organization, has selected Colonel Noah Orr as the first subject of many temporary art installations that will be erected throughout Marysville’s Uptown District in the future.

The art installation features Colonel Noah Orr and honors his association with the Liliputian Opera Company. It depicts Colonel Orr to-scale as testimony of his large physical stature and includes various components to encourage public interaction on social media (#uptown43040).

The artwork is printed on banner material and will be prominently displayed at 103 South Main Street for approximately two years.

The art installation is dedicated to the memory of Chad Flowers, Marysville City Planner, who worked diligently on the project until his passing in April 2019.

This project was made possible by support from Team Marysville, the City of Marysville, Union County-Marysville Economic Development Partnership, Union County Historical Society, Mike Short of Streamline Design & Print, and Joseph Ruby, property owner.

Who Is Colonel Noah Orr?

Noah B. Orr, the Union County Giant, was born September 19, 1836 in Darby Township, Union County, Ohio. He was the son of William and Mary Orr. Noah grew to a height of 7 feet 8 inches, (although in costume, he could measure nine feet tall). 

In the 1850s, Noah Orr entered into show business as a giant. He was on exhibit at the 1859 Ohio State Fair. At the time, he was using the stage name of “The Scotch Giant.” Noah also took the title of “Colonel” as part of his stage name. While being exhibited it was said he weighed about 550 pounds, had a 7 foot waist, 42 inch thigh and a 24 inch bicep.

 

He was invited to the White House to meet the President. Noah Orr’s career blossomed in September 1865 when P.T. Barnum hired Orr as a star attraction at his new museum in New York City. He was billed as “The American Giant”, “8 foot 3 inches tall” and “unequalled in stature.” 

The success of his employment with Barnum made it possible for Noah to purchase a new home in Marysville. Orr bought the brick residence located at 118 West Sixth Street in 1866. It was here that Noah and his wife would raise seven children.

Colonel Orr continued to travel with many different shows in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1878, he was offered a lead role in a traveling troupe known as the Liliputian Opera Company. The Liliputian Opera Company was a group of “little people” actors and one giant that performed musical comedy plays.

People came to see the little people and the giant, but also were entertained with a performance that included acting, singing and dancing. No doubt, Noah Orr would have toured with the Liliputian Opera Company for many years, but in March 1882, his health declined and he returned to Marysville. By June, his condition was critical. On July 1, 1882, at 8:15 PM, he died at his home. His death was reported in papers all over the country. News of his death even appeared in England and Australia. 

The funeral of Colonel Orr took place at his home on West Sixth Street at 2:00 PM on July 3rd. His casket had to be specially created in Springfield and was eight feet in length, thirty two inches wide, and twenty-eight inches high. It took ten men to lift the coffin and the only way it could be removed from the house was through a window. No hearse was large enough to carry his coffin and a special funeral wagon had to be constructed. The wagon was 14 feet in length and 7 feet, 5 inches wide. It was draped in black with a catafalque on which the coffin was placed. The funeral procession was said to be the largest ever held in Marysville. The giant’s body was placed in the public vault at Oakdale Cemetery. He was buried on July 15, 1882. Years later, in 1963, school children from Union County donated to a fund to purchase a headstone to mark the giant’s grave.

Today, the home of Noah Orr still stands at 118 West Sixth Street. A few blocks away, his large chair, used when he was on tour, and his big shoes, are on display at the Union County Historical Society. Now, a life-size image can be seen of Colonel Orr on the public square  – all are reminders of a once famous man, Colonel Noah Orr, the Union County Giant.

About The Liliputian Opera Company

The Liliputian Opera Company was series of professional children's troupes, first established in Tasmania. In the mid-1870s, James Pollard, a former organ maker and piano tuner, formed a local musical group called Pollard's Orchestral Union, based around the musical and performing talents of his 18 children.

After 1880, the Liliputian Opera Company included other performers and developed an extensive and highly successful program of performances of comic opera and musical items, travelling throughout Australia and New Zealand. Over the next thirty years several members of the Pollard family operated troupes under the same or similar names, travelling through Australia and New Zealand and later the Orient and North America.

Following James Pollard's death in 1884, the company disbanded, later reforming under the ownership of various family members. After 1896 the company split, with a branch retaining the original name. It was operated by Charles and Nellie Pollard (two of James' children) and traveled through Canada and the United States. Pollard's Juvenile Opera Company , run by Tom O’Sullivan, operated in Australia and New Zealand.

In 1909, another member of the family, Arthur Pollard, established a juvenile company to tour India via Ceylon and Malaya. A Pollard's troupe was active in North America as late as early 1916.

Colonel Noah Orr traveled across the country and Canada exhibiting his large size. He became well known as a performer and showman. He was invited to the White House to meet the President. Noah Orr’s career blossomed in September 1865 when P.T. Barnum hired Orr as a star attraction at his new museum in New York City. He was billed as “The American Giant”, “8 foot 3 inches tall” and “unequalled in stature.” 

The success of his employment with Barnum made it possible for Noah to purchase a new home in Marysville. Orr bought the brick residence located at 118 West Sixth Street in 1866. It was here that Noah and his wife would raise seven children.

Colonel Orr continued to travel with many different shows in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1878, he was offered a lead role in a traveling troupe known as the Liliputian Opera Company. The Liliputian Opera Company was a group of “little people” actors and one giant that performed musical comedy plays.

Colonel Noah Orr traveled across the country and Canada exhibiting his large size. He became well known as a performer and showman.