Second act ahead for the Fremont Opera House

Published: Apr. 19, 2017 at 6:15 PM CDT
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Like many Nebraska communities, the city of Fremont is full of interesting architecture.

From Midland University to the historic downtown area, many of Fremont's buildings illustrate the city's past.

One of those buildings is the Fremont Opera house. Built in the 1880s, the structure is hard to miss when you drive into Fremont on Highway 77.

When the opera house first opened, it seated 1,250 people. Through the years, it has withstood time and tragedy.

“The Hotel Pathfinder was across the street to the east. In January of 1976, there was a natural gas explosion,” said Dan Rosenbaum with the Opera House Foundation.

“Unfortunately, when it happened, it blew every window out in the opera house and caused extensive damage to the building.”

Today, the original stage is still intact in the upstairs of the opera house, along with the chandelier dome in the ceiling.

More than one million dollars has been invested in the building in hopes of restoring the structure to its original condition.

The main floor has undergone major improvements and is fully functional. That floor is now used for arts and entertainment events in the city.

“The renovation process started in 2009 when a group of concerned business leaders and citizens came together and were concerned for the future of the building,” said Chris Bristol, Manager of the Fremont Opera House.

“Through that, a ‘second act’ was born for the Fremont Opera House.”

The opera house main floor is also available for events like wedding receptions, graduation parties and other events.

“We get a fantastic response when people rent the facility,” said Bristol. “We hear really great things from them. It's a nice environment for special events, and we're happy to make dreams come true for people.”

Even though the main floor is complete, fundraising for the remainder of the renovation continues.

“Hopefully, if we can raise the money, we would like to put it back to its original state to use for performances, business meetings and other events,” said Rosenbaum.

“The hope is to someday restore it all back to it's original beauty.”