Bennet Opera House
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Previous Names: MWA Hall, Woodman Opera House, Strand Theatre
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The Strand Theatre briefly operated within the venue known as Bennet Opera House during the silent era of motion pictures. The building had opened in 1890 as part of Nebraska Christian College. That institution became Cotner College and the building became known as Cotner Academy. The building was moved to North Bennet where it became a fraternal hall for the MWA or Modern Woodmen of America. As the town needed an opera house, the group renamed it the Woodman Opera House in 1908.
In 1911, the venue became the Bennet Opera House and experimented with films though mostly booking live events. That changed in 1915 when it signed a deal to bring Universal films beginning July 17th each Saturday night. The opera house explained that each trip to a movie was like taking a veritable trip to the West Coast.
The venue became a full-time movie house known as the Strand Theatre on February 20, 1922 with Bebe Daniels in “North of the Rio Grande” supported a Harold Lloyd comedy short. That sub-lease experiment failed within two years. The theatre was remodeled late in December of 1923 to improve projection by Barnes and Larson. They had a contract with First National Films and its name reverted to the Bennet Opera House. Live events were also booked.
In 1929, a new one-year sublease to resume as a full-time theater failed likely because the venue was ill-suited for sound films or the cost of conversion was too high. The Bennet Opera House was used for live events into World War II and had its last film presentation - home movies shot locally - in 1942. In November of 1946, the building was razed with the wood repurposed for barns in rural Bennet.
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