AKRON, Iowa (KCAU) — The Akron Opera House was built in 1905 and opened in early 1906, bringing joy to the community until it closed its doors sometime during the Great Depression. However, the town refused to let the building close forever.
“In 1969 a group of students and some teachers in the community came together said we need to save this old building, so they did it and they did “Paint Your Wagon” in the fall of 1970 then and everythings just been going strong since then,” said Doug Olson, president of the board of directors of the Akron Opera House.
Since 1996 Doug Olson has been the president of the board of directors for the Akron Opera House, Olson says during his time as president the building hasn’t changed much since reopening more than 50 years ago.
“We did some painting, we’ve done some upgrading, they upgraded the stage, we’ve updated the seating and everything, but it is still pretty much the same as it was when it opened,” said Olson.
Despite minor touch-ups here and there, the building is in dire need of repairs both inside and outside.
“The brickwork, the roof, the windows, the doors they all need some help, we got some water leakage coming in because of the exterior of the building, we don’t have air conditioning we’re on the top floor so we have to shut down in the summertime,” said Olson.
Akron Opera House officials started a fundraiser for $1.5 million to renew the building.
“It’s to first secure the historic nature of the building so the exterior, the windows, return the main entry to a single main entry, but then also make it much more accessible so we’ll update the restrooms, right now we have a really steep staircase to get into the building we’ll change that to where we’ll have an elevator and wider stairs, and then we’ll also have a community gathering space,” said Leanne Philips, with the board of directors with the Akron Opera House.
Already the Akron Opera House has raised $200,000, a majority of it from private funding, that will be used for a new roof Olson says he’s thankful for the support from Akron citizens.
“Akron is about 1,500 people, we’re a small town but it’s a tight-knit community and there is a lot of support, and we need outside support to help us move on this thing,” said Olson.
“It’s impressive that this building was originally built by the support of community buying life insurance policies, and then it was restored by high school students and a drama teacher and has been really kept alive by community volunteers for all these years. and to think that the investments we’re making now will make that possible for future generations is really exciting,” said Philips.
Olson said the renovations are still in the early phases but they’ve raised enough funds to start some work on the project, but the exact date has not been set. If you would like to support the Akron Opera House. CLICK HERE.