Returning Homestake Opera House to its former glory: ‘it carries a central place in the history of the community’

After a fire led the Lead opera house to close its curtains, plans to renovate the building are now in the works.
Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 4:46 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - After a tragic fire in 1984 the Homestake Opera House in Lead closed its curtains. The painted walls turned to a burnt black and the theatre became hollow. Today, the Opera House is ready for their call back and the campaign to fully refurbish the opera house hit 3.2 million dollars of its eight-million-dollar goal.

The Homestake Operahouse is nearly 110 years old, built-in 1914, but after 70 years in Lead, a fire burnt the fine details of the historic building to a crisp. In the almost 40 years since the community has made many endeavors to restore the building.

“So, we’re really trying to use the photos and the historic record we have, to restore it as close as possible. For example, in this lobby, we had the paint colors recorded by the Homestake Mine,” said Steve Rice, a Homestake Opera House Board Member.

When the opera house was first built it played a major role in the mining community. “It is a product of the [Homestake] mine. The construction here was done by miners,” said Thomas Golden, executive director of Homestake Opera House. “So, it carries a central place in the history of the community, as well as in the future of the community”

Rice says the building even had a swimming pool in the basement and a bowling alley, truly serving as a community center for Lead.

Now the community is rallying to move the Opera House into a second act. In the last couple of years, the campaign to refurbish the building has taken off.

“A big part about what we do is access. The arts are expensive the arts have a high barrier to entry,” explained Golden.

The Homestake Opera House hosts bands, performers, and plays for the community. “This is first: a central piece in the community of Lead. When we’re busy, Main Street is busy,” said Golden.

The 8-million-dollar price tag for the renovation will return the historic building to its former glory. Rice says the first phase of the major renovation will begin in a few weeks.

If you’re interested in donating to the Homestake Opera House, check out this link.