Built in the 19th Century, the Lake Benton Opera House has seen many changes over the decades, but it still stands as vibrant and relevant here in the 21st Century as it did when the last brick was laid back in 1895. In 1970, the building was scheduled for demolition after years of sitting empty and falling into a state of disrepair. Due to the diligence of a group of passionate citizens, our amazing facility was saved from the wrecking ball. With the help of a lot of hard work and many financial contributions, the theatre was restored. In 1976, the Opera House was incorporated as a non-profit organization and continues to thrive today. We are dedicated to bringing quality theatre to southwestern Minnesota and the surrounding region, as well as serving as the cultural center of our community. The Lake Benton Opera House, Inc. is governed by a board of 12, which oversees the production of three plays and two musical productions each year, as well as Children’s Theatre each November. We strive to be a vital part of the region, also sharing our facility for city functions and with area organizations. We survive on ticket sales and the gracious contributions of area businesses and individuals, as well as hundreds of hours of dedicated service by our selfless volunteers. If you are interested in participating in any of our productions on stage or behind the scenes or if you would like to contribute financially, please feel free to contact us.
Board of Directors
Mark Wilmes – President/Marketing/Director/Grant Writer/Producer
Beth Reams – Treasurer
Jodi Greer – Secretary
David Norgaard – Chairman/Maintenance
Anne Lichtsinn – Tickets
Milo Downs – Maintenance
Sandy Hanson – Costumes
Nathaniel Gates – Technical/Marketing
Alan Riedel – Website/Set Building/Director
– 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.