Circa 1900 view of Opera House (Mount Horeb Area Historical Society photo)
Mt. Horeb Opera Block
109-117 East Main Street, Mt. Horeb, Dane County
Architect: Gordon and Paunack
Date of construction: 1895
The massive, three-story, brick Mt. Horeb Opera Block dominates the streetscape of downtown Mt. Horeb. Its eye-catching corner tower is a trademark feature of its Queen Anne Style. Other noteworthy details include the decorative brick panels, and arcaded storefront, comprised of a series of brick arches.
The Mt. Horeb Opera Block Company, which constructed the building, rented the property to a manager who was responsible for the public use of the block. Operating as a community center, the opera house served many functions including performances by theatrical troupes, dances, political rallies, home talent shows, minstrel shows, and, after 1907, silent movies. Talent in these shows included both local and regional groups. Although it appears that the number of plays presented at the opera house diminished quickly, the building managers continued to engage concert bands until the time of its closing in 1922.
Like most opera houses, the building housed a wide-variety of community activities, including semi-private parties, illustrated lectures, high school commencement exercises until 1918, school plays, basketball games, speeches by members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and political speeches. After the local high school burned in 1917, some of the classes met here while the new high school was built. By 1922, competition from other buildings led to the demise of this building as a center for public events, but it continued as the home of the local Masonic Lodge.
The retail portions of the building are open to the public during normal business hours.