The George Gerold Opera House History
George Gerold built the opera house in 1915 and operated it until 1932 when he suddenly passed away. At this time, Mrs. Clementina Rief Gerold had the Winninger Brothers run it for her. After two years they left town and left a lot of people bitter because they didn’t pay their bills. Mrs. Gerold’s nephew, William Peterson took over the theater for his Aunt. He eventually purchased the theater from her in 1939. At this time the downstairs was mostly wide open with two halves. Bill was married in 1942 and he and his family moved into the theater. They built an apartment in the lower half of the building on the West side. The front room was Dennis’s. He had a big Lionel Train setup in the corner and whenever the film distributors would come by they would have to play with the trains before they would talk business. Dennis’s sisters lived in the middle room and his parents by the kitchen. His mother had a coal burning cook stove in the kitchen. Dennis said that whatever happened in town happened at the theater. A governor had spoken there once. They had weddings, dances, auctions as well as movies. The large room on the left facing the sidewalk was the concession area up until the sixties or early seventies?? A jewelry store operated for awhile in this space and then the Petersons ran an ice cream store and sold Cedar Crest Ice Cream. It was last used as an attorney’s office but it is now restored and reopened as the Wega Arts Gallery. The large room downstairs on the East side was partially remodeled and offices where built when an insurance company occupied the space starting sometime in the early 70’s. In the large room a bar was operated during the 1920’s. Is was called the Jungle Room.
Now that we have reopened the building after almost fifteen years, people have come to our open house and other events and told us about their first date and where they sat, or that they used to have school lunch downstairs (for some years the school cafeteria was in the opera house); one gentleman told us that he used to take tickets and that the last movie he took tickets for was Gone With The Wind! There are many stories.
THE VIEW FROM THE BALCONY
If it were open. We would like to repair and open the balcony but we need your support.
The Opera House Today
Since purchasing the Opera House in 2007, we have been able to achieve quite a list of repairs and improvements. We would like to keep the Opera House as original as possible and fortunately most is still in it's original state. We are in the process of establishing the building on the state and national Historical Registers. We have much work yet to do and any help is greatly appreciated. Either through donations or volunteer help.
The Gerold Opera House is a unique place to hold your upcoming event! Weddings, Concerts, Movie Screenings, Banquets, Dances, Children's Birthday Parties! More about the Gerold Rentals!