Construction began on the Grainfield Opera House in April 1887. The basement was dug and the dirt was used to grade the streets. The limestone rock was shipped from the Bunker Hill area. The brick kiln northwest of town provided the brick.
In November 1887, the firewalls were built and the roof was laid. The ornate cast iron front, manufactured by the Mesker Bros. of St. Louis, MO., was shipped west by railroad, then assembled and attached to the brick by local workmen.
In January 1888, the building opened its doors to the first business, the Cap Sheaf office which was the local newspaper. Soon after, mercantile and general merchandise stores opened, followed by a harness shop, a doctor's office, a hardware store, a car dealership, a home and auto store, and the Masonic Lodge.
Vaudeville, dancing, hypnotists, comedians, boxing, school classes, and commencements were among the many activities held in the Opera Hall.
Since early day travel was limited to horse and buggy, train, or foot, stock companies would come to town by rail or other means and put on plays and concerts. They would stay 3-5 nights at a time. Those coming to the dances would travel in before sundown, dance until midnight, then go to the hotel for a meal. They would return to the Opera House and dance until daylight so they could see to return home. The children would be bedded down on the stage with lap robes from the wagons.
The Grainfield Lions Club and local residents recognized the importance and prominence of this property in the downtown area. It has successfully completed the structural masonry repairs and reroofing of this structure and will proceed with window and facade repairs as soon as funds are available.
This building has also been the focus of a KSU interior architectural studio for planning purposes. Community members donated time and equipment in gutting and cleaning the interior of the building.
Preservation of this property is being assisted by the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund -- Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, KS.
Letter received from a project designer at the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
4th Annual Craft Fair
A Wedding on Nov. 8, 2008
Corner of Third & Main St.
Grainfield, KS 67737
For tours by appointment, call
Ron Eberle 785-673-4798
Herb Queen 785-673-5585
Janet Ziegler 785-673-4744 (evening)
The purpose of organizing the Grainfield Opera House, Inc. is to preserve, renovate and restore the building which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For most of its existence, the Opera House was used as a community center. It was designed to accomodate a variety of commercial and social uses. The building is associated with the early optimism and subsequent fortunes of Grainfield and the surrounding agricultural territory.
Architecturally, the combination of local materials with a factory-made ornamental front is a design solution reflecting historic circumstances and the ambitions of the town company partners. The iron front was economical and quickly installed, creating the appearance of sophistication in a frontier town.
President -- Herb Queen
Vice President -- Dee Foster
Secretary/Treasurer -- Janet Ziegler
Board Member -- Diana Kaiser
Board Member -- Ron Eberle
Board Member -- Phil Garrett
Fourth Monday of the month
Fourth Monday of January
Grainfield Opera House, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Grainfield, KS 67737
Donations are tax deductible.
A tax exempt 501(c)3 organization
|"Together we can strengthen our
community and protect the special places
that are part of our diverse American
heritage. They are part of your memory. They make up our history,
and they are worth saving."
ajzig at ruraltel.net
|"Historic preservation does more than|
save our past. By working together, we can also use our unique heritage to bring
a stronger sense of community to America."
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Last updated 11/12/2008