COATES OPERA HOUSE
COATES OPERA HOUSE. Dubuque's second theater. Located on Fourth and Main STREETS, the Coates Opera House was formerly the CITY HOTEL until extensive remodeling was done in 1858. The theater, known as the Athenaeum, was located on the second floor with one balcony and two boxes set so close to the stage that patrons had difficulty seeing the performers. Stall seating was nearly as poor with the only good seats being found in the gallery. The arrangement of seating, following the parquet railing, led patrons on the extreme ends of the rows to face a wall instead of the stage.
The Athenaeum ceased to attract star performers when the GRAND OPERA HOUSE was built. The theater did attract vaudeville performers under the management of Charles Bartles, but then closed until around 1903. Jake Rosenthal secured the lease for the building at that time and began the process of building a better vaudeville business. The building became the BIJOU THEATER.
In 1908 the Dubuque Opera House Company was incorporated. It secured control of the theater which had been owned by Coates, Spensley, Eighmey, and Woodward. Immediately after the close of the vaudeville season in 1909 work began. The entire interior was removed and the theater was lowered from the second floot to the first floor, two balconies were installed, four boxes were put in on each side, and everything to modernize the theater was done. It was named the DUBUQUE OPERA HOUSE.