McHaffey Opera House


The McHaffey Opera House is an historic structure located in Eldon, Iowa, United States. It was constructed in 1891 and in use by the community through the 1940s. The building was mainly unused for many decades until a volunteer community group bought the opera house in 1995 and began restoration efforts. The McHaffey Opera House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in November, 1995.HistoryIrish immigrant David McHaffey was the proprietor of a brickyard in Eldon when, in 1891, he constructed the opera house using bricks from his business. With Eldon being on a main rail line, the McHaffey Opera House was able to secure a place on the "New York Circuit", bringing in traveling theatre troupes presenting the latest Broadway plays as well as Shakespearean classics, and vaudeville acts. Other uses included local talent shows, political rallies, and high school graduation ceremonies. For a time, in the early 1900s through the 1920s McHaffey Opera House was even used for basketball games.With the advent of motion pictures, a projectionist booth was added to the McHaffey to show silent films. As "talkies" came along to enormous popularity in the late 1920s sound capability was added to the Opera House. The last high school graduation ceremony was held at the McHaffey Opera House in 1941. By the 1940s Eldon had another outlet for movies leaving the McHaffey unused for that purpose. However flooding in 1947 damaged the newer theater, granting the Opera House one last chance to briefly show movies. Following that temporary reprieve the McHaffey Opera House went into a long period of dormancy, seldom used except for storage.


414 Elm St
Eldon, IA


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