Corning Opera House after renovation.

One of the few remaining historic opera houses in Iowa will hold its first big event tonight following the facility’s grand reopening in early April.

De Heaton is the program director at the Corning Opera House in southwest Iowa.

The structure was built in 1902. “We completely restored from the roof to the basement,” Heaton says.

“The auditorium is restored to look like the original and we added a conference room and a prep kitchen for catering.”

Between 1870 and 1920, roughly 1,500 opera houses were built in Iowa. In recent years, several Iowa cities have taken steps to restore the structures.

Corning Opera House before renovation.

Heaton says many opera houses are still standing, but have been abandoned.

Some of Iowa’s recently restored opera houses are located in Elkader, Coggon, Clermont, Decorah, DeWitt, What Cheer and Dubuque.

The Corning Opera House, which has room for about 300 people, will be used for concerts and movies and can be rented for wedding receptions and other special events.

Tonight, the Corning Opera House will host a special screening of “The Last Ride” – a new movie about the life of 1940s and 50s country music star Hank Williams.

“There are 10 historic theaters across the United States that get to premiere the movie and we are the only one in the Midwest,” Heaton says. The movie will show today, Saturday and Sunday at 7 p.m. each evening. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students at the door.