Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Knotts Opera House of Lucas, Iowa

      A multiple purpose hall was built, in Lucas in the early 1880's, by Absolom Knotts on the southeast corner of the intersection of Vine and James Streets, which is on the block north of Front Street. 
     One of the earliest industries in Lucas, The Southward Brick Kiln just south of Lucas, supplied the bricks used in this building.  The Abe Southward family owned and operated the kiln.
     This three-story building came to be known as 'The Brick Building'.  The entrance on the south and southwest side of the building opened into a walk-in basement made possible because the building was built on the slope of a hill.  Small businesses rented these lower rooms as offices.  Some dressmaking shops and the Lucas Ledger Newspaper occupied some of this space.
     The ground level on the north was divided into three long rooms making up the second floor.  Farmer's and Miners Bank once occupied the middle room.  Clark Baker's store was in the rear and K.E. VanScoy's Store, the Post Office and a restaurant occupied one of these rooms through the years.  Keeping track of other businesses that occupied these rooms from time to time would be impossible.
     A large auditorium, a stage and dressing rooms for the Opera House, occupied the upper or third floor of this building.  For thirty or more years, the High School held its graduation exercises here.  Community plays, rally's, celebrations, Oratory Society meetings and anything else that would be of interest to the community, were held in the Opera House.
     H. L. Byers owned the 'Brick Building' in 1914 when a man named Atkinson came to Lucas to invest in the Big Hill Mine.  Atkinson remodeled the building and put in an elevator and a boiler for heat, leaving the outside stairs for entry to the third floor.
     As history has proved through the years, building such as this one seem to go by the wayside.  The Opera House that was once considered one of the largest and most beautiful in the Midwest, was seldom used.  At times storage areas and repair shops would occupy the main floor.
     In the mid 1930's the Opera House, which had withstood the ravages of small fires several times, was succumbed by fire.  R.K. McGee owned the building at this time.  This architectural beauty of the 1880's was eventually torn down because of the danger to people walking past.

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