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WEEKLY HIGHLIGHT

12/31/09

Grand Opera House, Watonwan County, Minnesota

PhotoBuilt in 1891-1892, the St. James Opera House, historically known as the Grand Opera House, and the Opera House block, is significant as the building that served between 1892 and 1921 as St. James' principal performance hall. The opera house played an important cultural role by bringing live theater, classical and popular music, comedy, and other performance arts to St. James. The St. James Opera House was typical of hundreds of opera houses that were constructed across the Midwest during the years 1880-1910 with both public and private money. The opera houses or "opera halls" were often incorporated within large business blocks that had one or more income-producing retail stores on the first floor. Opera houses were often constructed adjacent to, and attached to, surrounding buildings, rather than being set apart from neighboring structures on larger lots. At present the auditorium is being restored.

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