Opera House

703-705 Lake Avenue,
Storm Lake, IA 50588

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Opera House

This wooden structure was built sometime around 1889, and was then well north of the main downtown. It was clad in tin, and had a large balcony. It screened its first movie in 1900. The town does not appear in the 1905 Cahn guide.

At some point, movies began to be shown regularly, and this continued up until 1916, when it was destroyed in a fire. The attractive Prairie style commercial building on the site today must have been built shortly thereafter.

Thanks to Joe Vogel for identifying this.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

SethG on November 22, 2023 at 12:56 pm

The first movie was apparently shown in 1900, when a screening of a film of the Oberammergau Passion Play was screened here. May have been called the Storm Lake Opera House, or that may have been a way that people referred to it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 22, 2023 at 5:07 pm

The 1912-1913 Cahn-Leighton guide lists the Storm Lake Opera House with 601 seats. The 1914 Gus Hill Directory is a bit more generous, giving it 700 seats. The American Motion Picture Directory skipped Storm Lake altogether, likely just an oversight, as other sources indicate three theaters in town by February, 1914: the World, the Princess, and the Palace.

The obituary of long-time Tracy Theatre operator Mike Tracy in the January 15, 1962 Boxoffice said that “[p]rior to owning the theatre Tracy and W. S. Skiff Presented stage shows at the old Storm Lake Opera House.”

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