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Architect Plans Restoration of Rogers Opera House

Posted: November 22, 2012 at 2:39 a.m.

The old Dixieland Shoes store on the corner of Walnut and First streets in Rogers is being renovated by new owner John Mack of JKJ Architects. He is restoring the building, which includes the Opera House on the second floor, once a grand theater. To see a photo gallery go to nwaonline.com.
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The old Dixieland Shoes store on the corner of Walnut and First streets in Rogers is being renovated by new owner John Mack of JKJ Architects. He is restoring the building, which includes the Opera House on the second floor, once a grand theater. To see a photo gallery go to nwaonline.com.

The center of Rogers’ social life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is set for restoration after years of neglect.

Opera Houses Popular in Early 20th Century

Staff Report

Rogers wasn’t the only city in Northwest Arkansas with an Opera House.

The Fayetteville Opera House was built in 1905 north of the historic courthouse by the Knights of Pythias for $25,000. Visitors were offered a variety of entertainment from Shakespeare to oration from William Jennings Bryan, and music from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

In later years, vaudeville acts, minstrel shows and motion pictures were featured. Two years after it was built, the building was referred to locally as the Ozark Theater, a tribute to the Ozark Club, a group of prominent socialites who met in the theater’s lounges and gaming rooms.

Over the years, the roof over the main auditorium collapsed and was condemned by the city, which led to renovation of the building. The auditorium and stage were removed from the back of the building, but the front portion, used for offices, was retained. The team renovating the building decided that it would be too expensive to return the front facade to its original look. An exterior finish was added as were faux columns to make the front look similar to the original design.

The building at 2 N. College Ave. now houses Mitchell Communications.

Not much is known about the Springdale Opera House. Historians say the building was constructed in 1894. It was destroyed in a fire and never rebuilt.

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