Grand Opera House in Galveston reopens

January 3, 2009 7:11:51 PM PST
The road to recovery from Hurricane Ike has been a tough transition for folks in Galveston. But on Saturday, the city reached another important milestone -- the historic Grand 1894 Opera House re-opened [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The music has officially returned to The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston. Months after Hurricane Ike submerged the landmark in water, people returned on its 114th birthday to see it renovated and renewed.

For people like Bill Taylor who retired to the island and has been an usher there for almost two decades, this is the return of an old friend.

"Oh man, the Grand? It's our heart. We came down here just to see it," he said.

The road to recovery is one that Executive Director Maureen Patton says has been long and hard, but well worth the turnout and excitement she's witnessed this weekend.

"I'm seeing more smiles than I've seen in a long time. People have a very serious expression and a lot of times, you see them walking down the street. But people are walking back into this building and they sort of just light up and they're saying 'Oh, it's fine, it's back,'' said Patton.

Many people we talked to don't live in Galveston but wanted to come to the birthday celebration and reopening to show their support for the island.

"I think it's wonderful for them, and although we're from Houston, Sugar Land area, you know we come here, too. We feel like we're part of this as well," said visitor Jan Albers.

"I think it's really great that they publicized this, so it brings us down here. We really haven't thought about Galveston since the storm and we really need to start thinking about them again and start coming back because they really need our help," said Houston visitor Barbara Veres.

They believe if it's important for Galveston, it's important in some way for us all.

"I know that this is a really important facility for Galveston with all of the productions that they have had in the past and would like to continue in the future," said Pasadena resident Bill Dittmar.

The Grand is one of the biggest landmarks in Galveston. Not only did it make it through Ike, it survived the big Hurricanes of 1900 and 1915. It's listed in the national register of historic places. It was also honored by the Texas Legislature back in 1993. It was named "The Official Opera House of Texas."

You can buy tickets for performances at the Grand starting tonight. For more information, CLICK HERE.

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