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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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DUBUQUE OPERA HOUSE COMPANY. Charles H. EIGHMEY, James WOODWARD, and Harker Brentnal SPENSLEY, Sr., the incorporators, announced the formation of the Dubuque Opera House Company on May 20, 1908. (1)

In 1909 Harker Spensley and Robert Spensley, as agents of the Dubuque Opera House Company, purchased the COATES OPERA HOUSE from Messrs Coates, Eighmey, Spensley and Woodward. They then formed a holding syndicate with Jake Rosenthal and the Western Vaudeville Managers' Association. Renovation of what was to be the BIJOU THEATER began with an estimated $40,000 being spent on remodeling the building into a state-of-the-art vaudeville theater. (2)

After fire destroyed the BIJOU THEATER in 1910, disagreements between the Dubuque Opera House Company and the neighbor to the north arose over a shared wall. The dispute over the removal of the wall which hindered reconstruction went all the way to the Dubuque City Council before an agreement was announced on May 20, 1910. Representatives of the Rapp Brothers, Chicago architects, had already begun ordering materials for the construction of the new building. (3)

Notice of the dissolution of the Dubuque Opera House Company was announced on February 11, 1911. (4)



1. "Articles of Incorporation of the Dubuque Opera House Company," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 20, 1908, p. 10

2. "Bijou Theatre Lies a Heap of Smoking Ashes," The Telegraph-Herald, April 8, 1910, p. 3

3. "Wall Dispute Has Been Settled," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, May 20, 1910, p. 6

4. "Notice of Dissolution," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 21, 1911, p. 2