Opera House

202 W. Bremer Avenue,
Waverly, IA 50677

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Opera House

Waverly’s opera house was built in 1877. It was a brick-veneered wood frame building of 2-3 stories. It also contained, at various times, municipal functions such as council rooms and a library. It may have been known as the Nichols Theatre, which appears in the 1905 Cahn guide, with no capacity given. Sanborn maps only call it ‘Opera House’.

By about 1916, movies were shown. It is unknown how long this lasted, but by the late-1930’s to early-1940’s, the Opera House was demolished for the gas station currently on the lot.

Contributed by Seth Gaines

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 18, 2023 at 3:30 am

The only evidence I’ve found of the Opera House showing movies is its appearance in a couple of issues of the theater industry trade journal Moving Picture World. The first was in the issue of of November 11, 1916. The item, datelined Waverly, Iowa, said “Messers. Plough and Bennett, formerly of Minneapolis, now control the opera house here.”

This house was listed under the name Nichols Theatre in at least six editions of the Cahn guides between 1903 and 1911, but not one of them gives the seating capacity of the house. Each does, however, say that “dates should read Nichols Opera House.” H. G. Nichols is listed as manager, but he appears to have been the owner of the building as well. He was mentioned in some historic publications in connection with the automobile business, and as a director of a local bank. His family was among the earliest settlers of the town. The January 5, 1918 issue of Moving Picture World says that he had disposed of his opera house at Waverly to George Moulds of Dayton, Iowa.

The various editions of Polk’s Iowa directory list the theater as the Waverly Opera House, though H. G. Nichols is listed as manager in some of them.

SethG on August 18, 2023 at 7:42 am

I bet that’s his garage/dealership right next door. Almost the entire block has now been laid waste for a parking lot.

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