Stoughton Opera House
Stoughton, WI 53589
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One of the acoustic and architectural treasures of the midwest, the Stoughton Opera House first opened it's doors in 1901!
The Stoughton Opera House, originally called the City Auditorium, first opened on February 22, 1901. It is one of the largest second story theaters in the Midwest. For over 50 years, there was a wide variety of cultural experiences to be enjoyed within its walls including operas, musical productions, minstrel, theater and vaudeville shows, temperance meetings, and, Governor LaFollette spoke here on several occasions. The Stoughton High School held graduation exercises here until 1938. There were Junior and Senior class plays until 1953, by which time the Opera House was painted over with a dull gray paint and extensively damaged by roof leaks and was eventually shut down. The clock tower was removed in 1961.
In the early 1980's, a decision was made to save the building and government offices. The "Friends of' the Opera House" was established and citizens came forward to fund and work on the restoration. A committee was also established to plan and complete the restoration of the Opera House.
The first project was to restore the clock tower, which was completed in 1988 and a likeness of it is now used as the logo for the City of Stoughton: In 1990, a fire escape was added and in 1992, air conditioning was installed. A matching grant from the Jeffries Family Foundation funded much of the restoration work. The City of Stoughton contributed to the restoration of the building's main entrance and the addition of an elevator and restrooms in the basement.
Plaster, carpets, floor lights, dressing rooms, paint, accessibility for people with disabilities and the latest in state-of-the-art equipment combine to make the Stoughton Opera House a wonderful mixture of Victorian and modern elements. The "crown jewel" of Stoughton has been restored and enhanced and is lovelier than ever.