The Grand Opera House
One of Dell Rapids' grandest buildings is the Opera House built in 1888. With the
help of grants, owner and renovator Joan Rasmussen has restored "The Grand" to its Romanesque Revival splendor with round-topped windows, a balcony and decorative stepped cornice.
Dell Rapids' history records a great fire of 1888, after which residents made a resounding cry to have an opera house in their town. J.A. Cooley, a respected businessman, and M.R. Kenefick, a local lawyer and former Dell Rapids mayor, announced plans to construct a two-story building with an opera house and seating for nearly 450 people.
The Clair Patee Company was the first group to initiate the Grand Opera House in 1888 performing plays including "The Martyr" and "A Night Off." From vaudeville and music concerts to minstrel and medicine shows, the Opera House hosted amateur productions, theatre groups and specialty acts.
In 1912, the O'Leary brothers purchased the building adding a projection booth, changing the opera house to a movie theater. Silent movies were first shown there, adding sound in the late 1920s.
With a significant investment from owner Joan Rasmussen and an historic preservation grant championed from the office of Senator Tim Johnson, the Grand Opera House is well on its way to restoring the special identity of Dell Rapids' historic business district. Plays, symphonies, and dances are possible entertainment events, combined with an historic atmosphere.
The Grand is now home to Dell Rapids newest restaurant, Papa's Pub and Eatery.