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


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Theater History. Courtesy: Telegraph Herald

MAIN STREET OPERA HOUSE. One the many theaters to occupy the corner of 4th and Main in Dubuque, the Main Street Opera House was the successor of the DUNCAN-WALLER OPERA HOUSE. Opened for business in 1893, the theater had as its manager a "Dr. Jim." This businessman attempted to attract business in unique ways. In December, 1895 he announced that ten turkeys would be given to people in the audience on Saturday evening. In addition two prizes would be given away--one for the homeliest man and the other to the most popular lady. (1) On February 1, 1896 a local resident drew the $20 gold piece given away. (2)

Local talent provided much of the entertainment. The local members of the MODERN WOODMEN OF THE WORLD presented a free minstrel show on February 7, 1896. (2) The prizes and contests could not keep the theater profitable. By August, 1896 the theater had been remodeled to serve as the BARTELL'S DRAMATIC AND VAUDEVILLE THEATRE. (3)



1. "Caught on the Fly," The Dubuque Herald, December 20, 1895, p. 5

2. "Caught on the Fly," The Dubuque Herald, February 2, 1896, p. 5

2. "In Burnt Cork," The Dubuque Herald, February 28, 1896, p. 8

3. "New Theatre to Open," The Dubuque Herald, August 25, 1896, p. 8