As far as I know I’ve never spoken in a building that’s part of the National Register of Historic Places–until last night.Â Last night I was invited to entertain the folks who work for First National Bank of Milnor and Lisbon, North Dakota, at their holiday party.Â The party was at the historic Lisbon Opera House.
The building was commissioned in 1895.Â “Opera house” was a generic term then.Â Today we would call it a community center.Â According to a brochure put out by the Lisbon Opera House Foundation, by the turn of the century, the Lisbon Opera House was considered one of the finest in the country for its city’s size.Â Nationally known talent appeared there.Â Motion pictures and the Fire Marshal put an end to that in 1923.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.Â Since 1994 or so, major improvements have been made to the building largely by volunteers armed with grant money.
Today it hosts plays, local talent shows, musical acts, concerts, meetings, wedding receptions and the like.
Although there is much to be done yet in its restoration, standing on its stage and looking up into its balcony has a great “feel.”Â And with the sound system not working last night, I got to feel what it must have been like for performers there back in 1895.Â It’s now one of my favorite buildings in North Dakota.