Grand Opera House
400 S. Barstow Street,
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Architects: George Otis Garnsey
The 1,202-seat Grand Opera House did legitimate live fare but was also where Eau Claire first saw moving pictures. It opened in 1883 and in 1897, the Edison Vitascope projected short novelty films. Ten years later, “full length” features augmented the Grand’s offerings. As touring road shows decreased, movies at the Grand Opera House increased and the Grand Opera House was run by United Pictures in 1923.
When United Pictures dropped the theatre - which was ill equipped for motion pictures, the Grand Opera House was picked up by the F&R Theatre Circuit, the Minneapolis chain that now controlled the Eau Claire movie marketplace. This proved to be a mixed blessing. F&R built the Wisconsin Theatre leaving the Grand Opera House mostly dark from 1925-1930 though running second run movies in the non-summer months. Because of the Depression in 1930, it was over for the Grand Opera House and it was demolished.
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