Homestake Opera House
The Homestake Opera House (309 Main St., 605/584-2067, www.homestakeoperahouse.org) is a work in progress. The opera house’s construction was orchestrated by Phoebe Hearst, the widow of mining magnate George Hearst. Built in 1914 as a gift to the city, the complex included the opera house and an attached recreation center. The opera house was called the “Jewel of the Black Hills” and no expense was spared in building the beautiful hall. The 1,016-seat opera house had eight private boxes and a balcony in addition to the floor seating.
The box seats were high-backed chairs upholstered in black leather. The floor seating featured mahogany wood upholstered in dark green velvet. Hand stenciling and hand-painted murals decorated the ceilings, ornate plaster columns adorned the walls, and glass chandeliers hung from the ceilings. The recreation facility included a bowling alley, swimming pool, library, and a billiards room.
For 70 years, the opera house served as the community center. Everything from vaudeville shows and silent movies to musical concerts and boxing competitions was presented. In 1984, fire struck and severely damaged the building, caving in the roof. The town voted to save the structure, but it sat empty for 20 years until serious restoration began in 2004. Today, visitors are free to visit the building and see the restoration in process. Staff are happy to answer any questions and guided tours are available by appointment.
© Laural A. Bidwell from Moon Mount Rushmore & the Black Hills, 1st Edition