A new life after old life
MADDOCK A historic opera house in Maddock is seeing new life thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers.
Jim Gilbertson, president of the Maddock Opera House Association, said the main floor of the building has been renovated and houses a bar and restaurant, coffeehouse and the city library, all of which makes a neat gathering spot.
The coffee house is called Harriman’s, after Gordon Harriman, the man who built the building back in 1905. It is staffed entirely by volunteers from the town and is open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Harriman’s has been open since last summer. Harriman’s operates in the same space as the restaurant, but operates at different hours, said Gilbertson. The city library also relocated to the building last summer.
The upper level of the building is yet to be renovated, but Gilbertson said the Opera House Association has big plans for it too.
“The upper level is going to be a multiple use facility,” said Gilbertson, “with dances, stage productions, individual performances by small groups.”
The Maddock Opera House is owned by the city of Maddock but is leased to the Maddock Opera House Association by the city for $1.
“We run the whole show,” said Gilbertson. The building is managed through an operating board.
Gilbertson said it has taken years of hard work and fundraising to get the building to this point. The building was rehabbed thanks to private donations, government grants and loans.
“”It’s an ongoing thing,” said Gilbertson.
Gilbertson said the group will be able to press forward with renovation of the upstairs floor if they receive a $150,000 grant they have applied for from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“If that doesn’t go through, we’ll have to do more fundraising,” he said.
The building has a lot of importance to the the town.
“It was the first two-story brick building opened in Maddock,” said Gilbertson.
Construction of the building began in 1903 and it opened in 1905. Over the years, the building housed a number of businesses, including a clothing store and a co-op store. Most recently it housed a hardware store, which closed in 2002. The owners were not able to keep the roof from leaking and didn’t have the money to invest to fix it.
Without the help of volunteers, the building likely would not have been able to be restored, said Gilbertson. work was done to repair and modernize the building, including its heating and air conditioning system, and electrical system.
In its heyday, the upper floor was used for a number of events, including stage productions, vaudeville performances and as a gymnasium.
Though it’s a historic building, Gilbertson said members of the Maddock Opera House Association have not pursued adding it to a historic register. They wanted to maintain some flexibility.