The newly refurbished Amherst Community Hall (formerly known as the Amherst Opera House) held it’s first official public gathering in October of 1938 when Portage County Progressives used the building for a big political rally that featured U.S. Senator Robert LaFollette as the keynote speaker. The event included speeches by a number of local and state candidates whose names would appear on the following month’s ballot. Republicans held a similar event in the building to promote their candidates the following week.
The final week of the month, the Amherst Volunteer Fire Department hosted a Halloween Dance in the hall, the new facility’s first dance.
This article sheds more light on the history of our Amherst Opera House. We know it was built between October and December of 1902. The first event was held January 3, 1903.
From 1903 to 1938 it operated as the Amherst Opera House Company during which time many “Entertainments” where hosted. In 1938 the federal program WPA (Works Progress Administration) did an extensive interior remodel. After the refurbish the Village of Amherst became the owner and The Amherst “Community Hall” was begun. The building was owned by the Village of Amherst from 1938 until late 1969 when it was sold to Harrison Baker.
If you know where to look in the Opera House you can find proof that the WPA was involved in 1938. If you are aware of any additional history or can correct any information about the Amherst Opera House, please let us know.