The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 27, 2013

Opera house has colorful past

ROSSVILLE — While the unexplained phenomena give the Haunted Opera House its notoriety, the building has an interesting history and a colorful past on its own.

“It had to be beautiful in its day, just beautiful,” owner Dave Triska said. “This is an amazing building. The history behind it is phenomenal.”

Triska would like to see photos of the building’s interior, if anybody has some to share.

“There’s not a whole lot left of the opera house — that’s what’s sad,” he said.

Triska was living in Lafayette, Ind., a couple of years ago when he learned the building was for sale. Somebody said it was haunted, and that piqued his interest even more.

Triska had been to Rossville when he was younger with his parents, who collected antiques. He bought the building and filled the ground floor with antiques.

There was so much junk in the building, however, that it took him nine months to clear much of it out. The building itself is structurally sound, but there has been much decay and neglect during the years.

History

In 1903, the Masonic Lodge 527 purchased the lot at 108 N. Chicago St. and started construction. By 1904, the building was finished, with the lodge on the top floor and an opera house on the first floor.

Both were state of the art and beautiful. Even today, the intricate molding and designs can be seen on the ceiling; the woodwork and windows have retained their beauty.

For the next 25 years, plays and shows resounded throughout the building. In 1929, the opera house was closed.

There was a balcony between the first and third floors. In 1931, the owner extended the floor of the balcony to the back of the building, creating a second floor. Over the years the second floor was used as a metal fab shop and then apartments.

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