Grand Opera House

400 S. Barstow Street,
Eau Claire, WI 54701

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Architects: George Otis Garnsey

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Grand Opera House

The 1,202-seat Grand Opera House did legitimate live fare but was also where Eau Claire first saw moving pictures. It opened in 1883 and in 1897, the Edison Vitascope projected short novelty films. Ten years later, “full length” features augmented the Grand’s offerings. As touring road shows decreased, movies at the Grand Opera House increased and the Grand Opera House was run by United Pictures in 1923.

When United Pictures dropped the theatre - which was ill equipped for motion pictures, the Grand Opera House was picked up by the F&R Theatre Circuit, the Minneapolis chain that now controlled the Eau Claire movie marketplace. This proved to be a mixed blessing. F&R built the Wisconsin Theatre leaving the Grand Opera House mostly dark from 1925-1930 though running second run movies in the non-summer months. Because of the Depression in 1930, it was over for the Grand Opera House and it was demolished.

Contributed by dallasmovietheaters

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 14, 2018 at 11:27 am

Eau Claire’s Grand Opera House, a ground-floor theater built in 1883, was one of some forty theaters and opera houses, mostly in smaller midwestern cities, designed by the Chicago architect George Otis Garnsey (1840-1923.)

The 1913-1914 Cahn guide listed the Grand with 508 seats on the main floor, 382 in the balcony, 300 in the gallery, and 12 in boxes. The stage was 32 feet deep feet from the footlights to the back wall, and 70 feet between the side walls. The proscenium opening was 32x32.

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