It took 98 days for Grand 1894 Opera House to reopen after Ike

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Galveston is a draw for more than its beaches. Cultural and historical tourism is part of the island city's appeal, and at the top of that historic list is the Grand 1894 Opera House.

It was built when Galveston was competing with New Orleans as crown jewel of the Gulf Coast. Six years after the opera house opened, Galveston was leveled by the Great Storm of 1900, which is regarded as the deadliest natural disaster to date in the U.S.

"It was repaired and reopened less than a year later," said Maureen Patton, of the Grand 1894. "When you see the destruction from then, it was amazing."

When Ike flooded the building 11 years ago, Patton told the contractor she wanted it ready for opening in January.

"He asked, 'What year?' In 98 days, it was finished and we celebrated her 114th anniversary," Patton said.

The venue has hosted Anna Pavlova, a famous Russian prima ballerina of her time, and world famous violinist Itzhak Perlman. The Marx Brothers performed at the Grand, and Greater Tuna returns often.

"Most of our guests come from outside the Galveston area," Patton said. "It's a destination. Galveston is famous for historic buildings, and among them, this is an icon."

As well as entertainment, its reopening months after Ike provided inspiration to those struggling to recover from the hurricane.

"It represented hope," she said.

As loyal as the patrons are, those on the stage are as well.

"They love the setting," Patton said. "It's intimate, and the acoustics are incredible."

To soak in the history and be entertained, head to the Grand 1894 Opera House's website for performance schedules.

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