Submitted by scott on Wed, 04/08/2020 - 15:39
43° 48' 44" N , 91° 15' 6" W

Known as the Pomeroy Opera House.

La Crosse’s Pomeroy Opera House, which was located on the southwest corner of Fourth and Main streets. This multi-use building was completed in early 1869 for Marcus “Brick” Pomeroy, the nationally known and controversial publisher and editor of the La Crosse Democrat newspaper during the 1860s. The formal opening of this opera house, located on the top floor of the building, was held 145 years ago, on Feb. 13, 1869, with an exhibition of what were then the first bicycles to appear in La Crosse. Later known as the McMillan Opera House, this building was destroyed by fire on Dec. 3, 1897, according to old La Crosse newspaper files. The former site of this opera house is now occupied by a parking area, Howes Diamond Jewelers and the Great Wall Chinese Restaurant.


LaCrosse, Wis., Dec. 3. -- The worst fire that has visited this city for years occurred about midnight last night. Of the old "Brick Pomeroy" block and the McMillan Opera House block, this morning only the tottering walls remain. The lower floors of the burned buildings were occupied by H. HEIL & Sons, shoes; ALLEN'S news depot; LANGSTAD & WATERS, musical instruments; S. BOWLBY, branch of the W. W. Kimball company; the Drummon company, jewlers; and MILLER Brothers morgue.  The second floor was taken up with offices, while the third floor was used as the armory of the Company M of the National Guard. On this floor all the stores of the company were kept, and when the fire reached the powder and shells, the explosion was terrific.  The loss can hardly be estimated at this time, but will exceed $200,000. The greater part of this is covered by insurance. Six firemen were injured, three seriously. The McMillan Opera House was owned by the McMillan estate. 

Logansport Journal Indiana 1897-12-04 

From David Kranz, La Crosse Public Library Archives Dept. (email correspondence):  "The venue was generally called the Opera House locally at the time. According to the 1907 "Memoirs of La Crosse County" and 1881 "History of La Crosse County," this opera house had been built in 1867 by Mark "Brick" Pomeroy to be the La Crosse Opera house (and also offices for his newspaper, the "La Crosse Democrat"). He left the area and suffered financial problems, the building then was foreclosed upon and owned by the company that held Pomeroy's mortgage, the Charter Oak Insurance Co., which rebuilt/refurbished it with stores on the first two floors and the opera house on the third floor, opening this new version in 1879. By 1884 it had been sold to Alexander McMillan and was often called the McMillan Opera House. The building, previously on the southwest corner of 4th and Main Streets, no longer stands. " 

January 22, 1885  

Review and other attachments courtesy: Anita Taylor Doering, Senior Archivist & Archives Manager, La Crosse Public Library

Also included: They were guests of the Young Men’s Library Association of La Crosse’s lecture committee. While we do not have a ticket stub from that night, also attached is the annual report of the YMLA noting the appearance of Twain & Gable in the lecture committee reports as well as under disbursements. It cost the Association $400 to have them come but they also had their most successful year financially.

-- \ Anita Taylor Doering, Senior Archivist & Archives Manager, La Crosse Public Library