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Iowa History Daily: November 16 - Pella Opera House

Iowa History Daily: On November 16, 1900, the curtain raised on the first ever show, “What Happened to Jones?” at the Pella Opera House. One of Iowa’s iconic live performance venues, the story of the Pella Opera House represents a commitment to historic restoration and preservation.

Pella architect Henry De Gooyer designed the four story, brick Romanesque Revival structure financed by owner of the Pella Drain and Tile Company Herman Rietveld. Using the opera house in Sioux City, Iowa, as his guide, De Gooyer’s design featured locally produced orange-colored bricks distinctive to Pella.

After the opera house opened in November 1900, the building regularly served its intended purpose for a few years. Admission prices, set at 25¢, 35¢, and 50¢, allowed management to secure a variety of entertainment including vaudeville acts to the world-renowned Hungarian Orchestra. The venue continued to sporadically host stage performances until 1918, before the building underwent conversion into a commercial building during the 1920s.

During the 1980s, the founding of the Pella Opera House Commission allowed for acquisition of the property and conversion back into a live entertainment venue. A Des Moines architect, Lawrence M. Erickson, served as architect for the 1990 rehabilitation project. In 1992, locals worked to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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