Opera House, Keokuk, IA
The Grand Theatre was designed by Merle F. Baker and was constructed on the foundation of the Keokuk Opera House (Circa 1880) which burned in 1923. It was patterned after theaters in Chicago and was praised as one of the finest theaters in the country at the time.
It Happened In Keokuk
Friday, December 7, 1923
KEOKUK'S 43 YEAR OLD OPERA HOUSE IS GUTTED IN EARLY MORNING BLAZE.
About an hour after yesterday evenings last performance of Frank Craven's comic tragedy "THE FIRST YEAR" at approximately 12:30 a.m. Keokuk's 43 year old opera house, Known as THE GRAND since 1914, was gutted by a fire, which some believe may have been smoldering during the final act of the play.
The Keokuk Opera House was constructed in 1880 at a cost of $30,000, at the time it was considered to be the most pretentious structure in Keokuk. This 60 x 68 foot building had an auditorium which could accommodate more than a thousand persons. The grand entrance was 20 feet wide and the stage was the largest in the Midwest.
In 1914 The Baker-Dodge Theatre Company took over the opera house and renamed it The Grand Theatre, it continued the tradition of bringing the best in Musicals, Stage Plays and even the popular motion pictures of the times. Merle F. Baker, head of The Baker-Dodge company vows to rebuild The Grand.
January 14, 1885