History Nebraska Blog

Love-Larson Opera House, Fremont, Dodge County

 

 

Each style of architecture has its merits, but one of my personal favorites is the Richardsonian Romanesque architecture of the late 1800s. Inspired by the work of American architect Henry H. Richardson, the style involved a generous use of rounded arches and turrets, meticulous architectural detailing, and varying textures and colors of brick and stone. 

One Nebraska structure that gives a sense of the exuberance and scale of this era of architecture is the Love-Larson Opera House in Fremont, designed by Omaha architect Francis M. Ellis and built in 1888. 

DD05-E-003_UnknownOrigin_UnknownDate_01 (Microfilmed May 1979)

Its original purpose hints at changes in both entertainment and architecture that have taken place in the last thirteen decades. While the auditorium hosted productions of other performing arts besides opera, it is telling that communities referred to these buildings as "opera houses."

Exterior 1967 - DD05-E-003_H673-5-3851

L-L Opera House, October 2020, Edward Harthorn (Square) v2

With its stained glass windows, checkerboard ornamentation, and four-story scale, the Opera House remains one of the most commanding buildings in Fremont’s historic central business district. 

A non-profit purchased the building in the mid-1970s and has been making improvements and repairs to the structure since then, while also bringing events back to the space as well. It benefits Fremont and Nebraska that such buildings are not only preserved, but brought back into community use.

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