History Within weeks of the night the original wood frame opera house burned to the ground in early December, 1895, the community was making plans and raising funds to replace it with a fine brick structure. The ambitious project was completed in little more than a year, and it was presented as the finest opera house in this part of the century, which it was with its spacious stage, horseshoe shaped balcony and box seats for special guests. It was the site of plays, traveling troupes of musicians and actors, political rallies, graduations, Decoration Day observances, and all manner of community gatherings -- even a funeral or two -- during its first three decades. With movable seating, and a kitchen in the basement, it also accommodated dinners, dances, card parties, basketball games and more. From the 1920s through the early 1950s, with the advent of movies, the opera house became, first, The Majestic Theatre and then, The Valley Theatre, and a variety of programs and community events continued to be held there. After World War II and the coming of television, the opera house was used less and less, and the neglected building fell into a state of disrepair. In 1970, with the building already scheduled for demolition, a group of citizens united for the urgent purpose of saving this piece of the communitys history. Restoration was begun and is a continuing project. New seats, a fresh paint job, a new stage curtain, and some new wiring were added in February and March of 2001, while new windows, a new balcony rail and period paint colors added interest to the front exterior. The Lake Benton Opera House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 25, 1977.There are a very few of these grand opera houses from the 19th century remaining in the State of Minnesota. In 1976, the Opera House was incorporated as a non-profit organization to restore the historical building as a cultural center and a facility for community activities, and to promote and sponsor the arts for Lake Benton and the area. Each year, as funds permit, physical improvements are made to the building, which have included over the years a new roof, tuck-pointing of exterior walls, and numerous smaller projects and upkeep, as well as improvements for the comfort and well-being of our patrons, such as air-conditioning and upgrading of restrooms, and cosmetic improvements like woodwork, carpeting and wallpaper. Additions to our production capabilities as well, enable us to provide a wide variety of entertainment and arts throughout the year. The Lake Benton Opera House progresses and prospers thanks to the countless hours of effort put in by many volunteers, be it in the ongoing restoration of the building, a board of directors who manage its affairs, actors, costumes, set, and technical people involved in its plays, ushers and ticket office personnel, or helpers with the mailings.