The Cemetery Club
– OUR HISTORY –
The Lake Benton Opera House, one of the premiere historic buildings in southwest Minnesota. Home to an active community theatre, the Opera House has begun its second century in our community.
In December of 1895, only two weeks after fire had destroyed the original wood frame opera house, a group of citizens began construction of “a fine new brick structure.” When it was finished in late 1896, it was considered one of the finenst of its kind in this part of the state.
It boasted a spacious stage, a horseshoe shaped balcony (still one of its most endearing features), private boxes for important guests, and a gas lighting system. It drew theatrical groups and traveling troupes of performers, and was the locale for school plays, concerts, political meetings, and public events.
From the 1920’s through the early 1950’s, the opera house was known first as The Majestic Theatre and later as The Valley Theatre, with movies shown on a regular basis.
Thereafter, the unoccupied building fell into a state of disrepair, with a devastating hail storm in 1963 dealing the grand old building a final blow and opening it up to the elements.
In 1970, with the building already scheduled for demolition, a group of citizens united in an effort to save it. Restoration began, always with the goal of retaining as much as possible of the original ambiance of the beautiful old building. On March 25, 1977, it was placed on The National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the Opera House is open from March until mid-December, with a full and varied program of plays and sponsored talent. You can join a growing number of groups from Minnesota and surrounding states to enjoy its offerings.