Historic Opera House Restoration


The history of the Elkader Opera House begins the night of January 20, 1903. This evening was opening night of The Man With the Iron Mask at the Turner Opera House, and it may have been the last presentation in the building because two weeks later it burned to the ground.

The community rallied and within four days $10,000 had been raised for the construction of a new opera house. The building, as described in the April 16, 1903 issue of the Elkader Register, was "to be 50 x 102 feet, with a handsome front of pressed brick."

By November 12th of that same year, the new opera house manager was making arrangements for a company from Chicago to present The Governor's Son in the new Elkader Opera House.

Opening night was November 26, 1903. Special trains ran from McGregor and other points along the railroad line so people could see the new attraction in Elkader.

Thus began the long career of the Elkader Opera House. At the height of its glory, the Opera House played host to the best plays on the Chicago-Minneapolis circuit. Often the casts were so large that the hotel could not house them all. When this was the case, the actors and crew would stay in private homes in Elkader, demonstrating a support for theater and the arts that has continued for 97+ years.

An original Oleo restored and used at the Elkader Opera House