The Akron Opera House, currently being restored to its turn-of-the-century glory, is one of Iowa's remaining historical gems which community spirit has kept alive.
Built in 1905, the Opera House held its first performance, "The Homeseekers," in February 1906. Over the next 100 years, an array of live performances played at the Opera House -- chautaquas, theater, lyccum speeches, medicine shows and opera. Akron was on the Pembina rail line, which brought traveling troupes of actors, musicians and politicians to rural communities.Estimates are that Iowa's rural communities built over 1200 opera houses. Less than 300 still exist today. During the Depression, when the Akron Opera House was closed to performances, Akron refused to let it deteriorate beyond renovation. The building continued to be rented to local businesses. In 1970, high school drama teacher, Mr. Richard Jacobs and his drama group of 60 students, organized volunteer and community energy to reopen the opera house. Newspaper accounts describe drama students rehearsing plays amid the noise of construction. Volunteers rebuilt the stage with lumber from an old church and found and salvaged theater seats from an old movie house. Local women sewed a stage curtain, and someone donated a piano. Historical accounts also claim that 400 resident bats were removed from the building. Since then, the theater group has celebrated 34 years of local productions. In 1974, the Akron Community Theater purchased the building and continued to update and restore it. Today, the opera house is being revitalized once again so that the community can continue to share its rich tradition of live performances