Litchfield Opera House

[Litchfield Opera House Photo]

The Opera House in Litchfield was built in 1900 and served for several decades as a venue for traveling theater troupes, local musical performances, and civic assemblies. Remodeled in 1935 as a community building, the city-owned structure was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, but gradually fell into disrepair and underutilization, with extensive interior alterations and rampant mold growth. The Litchfield City Council voted to demolish the building in 2006.

The following year, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota included the Litchfield Opera House on its annual 10 Most Endangered Historic Places list, and a local citizens group—the Greater Litchfield Opera House Association, Inc.—was formed. After a formal reuse study was completed, GLOHA, Inc. purchased the building from the city in 2008 and began renovation. This volunteer-led effort has obtained numerous grants to restore missing features of the historic interior and return the building to active use. The efforts to save the opera house have also resulted in an increased preservation ethic in Litchfield, which adopted a Historic Preservation Ordinance in 2008. Already, a downtown commercial historic district has been established to promote and protect more than 50 historic buildings.