Built 1902


Merrill Opera House

In 1902 the Merrill Opera House was erected, at this time it was the finest building in town.  Construction was of brick and stone.  Henry Weinheimer, who had a livery barn was hired to haul the bricks from the Illinois Central Railroad to the place where they were needed, using a team and the running gears of two wagons. *

The first floor of the building was owned by John Schindel and J. F. Berner, who operated a general merchandise and hardware store.  The upper floor was built by the American Life Insurance Co. of Des Moines, later taken over the Merrill Opera Association.

The Opera House had a large stage with dressing rooms on each side at the south end of the building.  The curtain was a large roller type with advertisements of local business firms.  Road shows, home talent plays, and school activities were also held in the hall, besides social functions, dances, box-socials and basketball games.  A balcony over the south end of the hall was remodeled and the American Legion held their meetings in those rooms until 1925, when the new high school gymnasium with a stage took over most of the functions.

*Henry Weinheimer who operated a livery stable at that time, contracted the job of hauling the bricks on a wagon running gears with dump boards.  Mr. Weinheimer said he had to take out insurance with the company before he could get the job of hauling the bricks. 

~Source: Merrill Centennial 1872-1972, page 20