King's Opera House

King’s Hall, known formerly as King’s Opera House was built in 1876 by Charles King at an estimated cost of $10,000.  Opening night, October 3, 1876 saw .75 seats or reserved seats for $1.00.  For many years the great and non-great actors and actresses of the nation visited the hall to present stage productions to local residents.  It was the home of the “Independence Dancing Club” during the late 1870’s.  Many high-school graduations were also held there.

King’s Hall probably had its most thriving days during the 1890’s when Independence played host to the racing crowds and reveled as the horseracing capital of the country.  The extreme length was 120 feet and width 56 feet,  the height of the auditorium was 26 feet, and the ceiling decorated in color.   The gallery at the front of the building was 24 by 53 feet, under it was the entrance,  ticket office and foyer.   It was furnished with gas footlights and suitable drop curtains, wings and backgrounds for ordinary entertainments. 

At some time, it seated 800 persons and boasted a 24x53 foot stage and gas foot lights.  The opera house later was succeeded by Gedney Opera House and years later was taken over by Independence YMCA and then served as headquarters for Co. E of the National Guard.

In more recent years, the hall housed the Iowa Wholesale Grocery Co., The People’s Supply Co., a roller skating rink, Ward’s Poultry and Midwest Refrigeration, and an antique shop.

A proposal to convert the hall into a Community Center was rejected in April of 1947 because at that time the Code of Iowa restricted smaller cities from having community centers – during this time it was owned by the city.

It was also the site for the Independence Christmas tree for many years.  The tree being donated by MHI each year and put in place by the local REA crew (now REC).

 


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