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Downtown Gem - What Cheer Opera House

June 29, 2021

Porter Wagoner. Ernest Tubb. Hank Williams Jr. Guy Lombardo. John Philip Sousa. They all played at the What Cheer Opera House! Not often does one find a gem like this in a small, Iowa town, but the opera house is still alive and going strong in What Cheer.

After a fire destroyed the first opera house in 1893, the Masonic Lodge built a new three-story structure in the thriving coal mining community. Since then, the Opera House has undergone many community-driven restoration projects. The building features unique architecture and interior design including a horseshoe balcony, wide double front doors, 15-foot foyer ceilings and seats up to 600 people.

The backstage walls are lined with vintage publicity posters of many of the famous acts that played in the Opera House. This Romanesque Revival style building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The third floor originally housed the Masonic Hall. This wide-open space is still intact.  The board of directors has lined up a schedule of a dozen events (country, rock and the blues) in 2021 featuring local and national talent. This downtown gem is a must see!