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23 August 2012 / leggypeggy

Minden Opera House—bringing the big city to a small town

Minden Opera House stage

Small towns can do great things and that’s definitely the case with the farming community of Minden, Nebraska. Poor John and I had a couple of great nights in July staying near Minden with Steve and Lynne Favinger, dear friends from my university days.

Steve made a point of driving us into town for a good sticky-beak (Aussie slang for a ‘look around’). The community is prospering with new industries, businesses and eateries—I had one of the best-ever reuben sandwiches.

But what really blew us away was the refurbished Minden Opera House. Built in 1891, the opera house stopped being an entertainment centre in the late 1940s.

Ceiling mural features the courthouse and railway

More than 60 years later, the Kearney County Community Foundation set out to restore the then hardware store to its bygone glory. The work took a couple of years and was paid for completely by grants and donations.

The new and improved opera house opened about two years ago. Today it is the setting for all manner of theatrical, musical, educational and community events, such as weddings, conferences, graduations and recitals. When we stayed with Carol Roeder, another long-time friend, we saw a video of her granddaughter’s dance recital at the opera house.

A ‘My Way’ tribute to Frank Sinatra was playing on the weekends around the time we were there, and we were sorry that we had to miss it.

All ready for intermission

But we did get to see the opera house itself. We were especially lucky because Dave, who has a role in looking after the building, was happy to give us an impromptu tour. I got a kick out of the sign on the front door. It stated the opera house hours and went on to say—more or less—that you could get in at other times by making an appointment or getting lucky. Like I said, we were lucky.

Dave showed us the performance hall and stage, along with the ceiling mural (images relevant to Minden) and fibre optic display (the mural lights up to give you an indoor starry night which is hard to photograph). Dave also explained a lot of the background to the renovations.

We even got to see the Green Room, which is decorated with posters, signs, memorabilia, signatures and comments from previous performances. I like Tom Mabe’s two-cent’s worth. Ya gotta love Nebraska weather.

Thanks Minden for offering up such a great stop! And I just noticed that season tickets are a bargain at $60. Book now.

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Leave a Comment
  1. lmo58 / Aug 23 2012 8:15 am

    Hi Peggy,
    The town did a great job restoring the opera house. Is Minden very far from where you come from in Nebraska? I’m glad to see that you caught up with old friends and had such a good time. Lucky you that Dave was able to give you an insider’s view of the building. I really like the way they set up for intermission. What’s a reuben sandwich? Eagerly awaiting the next instalment.
    Best wishes


    • leggypeggy / Aug 23 2012 10:49 am

      HI Louise — Minden is only a short distance from Kearney, where I lived for almost 12 years. A reuben is corned beef, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing on rye bread. It was supposedly invented at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha.


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