Tuesday, November 22, 2016

New Interpretive Center at Historic Homestake Opera House

Spearfish Area Historical Society and visitors in the Historic Homestake Opera House foyer -- Oct 30, 2016 

Forty-six members and visitors of the Spearfish Area Historical Society toured the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead, SD on Sunday, Oct 30, 2016.  Sarah Carlson, Executive Director of the opera house talked of the history of the 24,000 sq ft structure built in 1914, and how the opera house has been involved with the northern Hills community ever since.  The group also toured the new Interpretive Center and was given a special tour of the swimming pool in the lower level.

Sarah Carlson, Executive Director of HHOH - Oct 30, 2016
The Homestake Opera House was built by Phoebe Hearst (mother of William Randolf Hearst) with the help of Homestake Mine superintendent, Thomas Grier.  The architectural firm was Shattuck and Hussey from Chicago and the original cost was $250,000.   The building included a 1,000 seat theater, a library, billiard hall, social rooms, a bowling alley and a heated pool.  Through the years the opera house was a venue for opera theatre, ballet, musical theater, concerts, dances, vaudeville shows, and eventually became a movie house with a shooting range in the basement.  On April 2, 1984 a fire collapsed the roof of the theater and destroyed the stage, theater and lobby and the building went dark for many years.  In the early 2000's the foyer and balcony foyer were restored to original glory, floor heating installed in the theater, 450 seats put in place, and modern bathrooms built.  Since then regular restoration and improvement projects have included:  cloak room, ladies lounge, men's smoking lounge, chandelier, and the original cherub angels re-set.  In 2016, an Interpretive Center museum of the history of the opera house was completed.

The tour was enjoyed by all, as our group spread out in the lovely environment.  Two ladies were chatting comfortably in the ladies lounge.  A group of seven at the back of the theater were laughing at stories.  Others were still on the tour of the swimming pool and we heard that some enjoyed a special tour of the furnace room.  Thanks Historic Homestake Opera House!