Restoration is Underway

We need your help to complete some much needed repairs!
Please consider a donation.

The What Cheer Opera House, previously known as the Masonic Opera House, is a historic building located in What Cheer, Iowa. It was built in 1893, and is a 100’ x 50’ building. It has served as a clubhouse, an auditorium, a music hall, and a cinema. The third floor housed a Masonic hall in the early years. The auditorium seats 350 on the main floor, the balcony seats an additional 240. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.
tearing out
The What Cheer Opera House Board has been approved for a grant that would allow much needed structural improvements and the expansion of programming for the younger generations. For this grant one of the criteria is that we must raise $100,000 to match and receive the $100,000 grant. As a nonprofit entity we operate solely on monies that we can raise through shows, donations and grants. We are reaching out to you, our friends, that have a history with the Opera House.
The goal is to improve the structural integrity of the building and add more programming for the younger generations. Some of our projects will include, but are not limited to, much needed tuck pointing of our structure, refinishing the stage, reinforcing some joists in the basement, fresh paint on the interior, refreshing our third floor for use by the community families and groups, and possibly adding chair lifts for elderly to get to the third floor for family functions.
With your help, we know that we can accomplish our goals and continue preserving and maintaining our beautiful building for future endeavors and generations to enjoy. Thank you, for making a difference through your support, compassion, and generosity. If you have any questions, or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact Carol Ridgeway, at (641)634-2415.

Planned Repairs

Brick Repair
1. Exterior Brick Repair/Tuck-Pointing – Estimated total of $250,000
  • Phase 1 – Fall of 2021 (completed) – Begin tuck-pointing on the North side of the Opera House. $50,000 spent
  • Phase 2 – Summer of 2022, as donations allow – Complete critical areas of North wall
  • Phase 3 – 2023 and ongoing – work around the South, East, and West sides until all exterior and interior brickwork is complete
    2. Electrical Wiring – Estimated total of $20,000
    • Removal and Repair of knob/tube electrical wiring on the third floor as needed for safety – timing and repairs are dependent on donations
    • Evaluation and repair/update of wiring on first and second floors
    3. Exterior/Egress Doors on all three floors – Estimated at $29,350
    • Most of the doors have been donated and will be recognized with a plate on the door. There is still an opportunity to donate the final door.
    • Remaining costs will be for installation and repair of surrounding structure
    4. Stage Repair and Refinishing – Estimated at $13,524
    • Joist repair under the stage - $1600
    • Refinishing - $11,924
    5. Third Floor Windows - $40,000
    • Window casing and glass for each window is $2000
    • There are 5 windows that need to be replaced as soon as possible due to the water that is leaking in - $10,000
    6. Audio/Video update
    7. Addition of a Stair Lift

    Donate a Door

    Right now, we have a pressing need for emergency exit doors. Our current doors allow daylight through, and are a security concern. We're also concerned about the damage that could be done due to weather infiltration. One of the first floor doors is a double door (considered two doors) and will cost more than $5,000 to replace. The remaining two doors are smaller single doors and are estimated at around $2500. We would like to offfer to the community the opportunity to "Donate a Door." Each door donated will have a plaque withthe names of those who donated (or in memory/appreciation of) placed on the door. If you have interest, please contact Judy Striegel to make the payment and to secure wording on the plaque. (641) 660-5977

    * Watch for updates, we will be adding information as we make progress! *