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The Schlitz Opera House was located at the northwest corner of Sixth and
Chestnut. It was built in 1896. It had two rooms on the main floor. For
many years a saloon was in the south room while the north room had a restaurant
and poolroom. The upstairs was a ballroom and gymnasium where the Minonk Fireman's
Ball was held each year. In addition, the Minonk Fans, a semi-pro basketball
team, played their games here and was considered the best basketball team in the
country during its heyday. They defeated such times such as the New York Nationals, the South Wilmington
Seals, the Freeport Badgers, the Chicago Legion, and many other teams.
The gymnasium had support poles right in the middle of the floor, which the players would use as picks when driving the ball down the court. Some felt that this definitely gave the Minonk Fans the hometown advantage.
Political conventions were held here and one of the best dancing schools in the state operated in the ball room. Many famous actors from the early part of the 20th century performed on stage here. The famous lawyer Clarence Darrow also appeared in the hall.
Unfortunately, the building burned down in 1934 and was believed to have been deliberately set. Young Chevrolet Garage was built on the site.
The restaurant in the Schlitz Opera House shown at the right was run by
Ed 'Dude' Ryan (far right) in the 1920's. His wife stands behind the lunch
counter. At the left are Julia Gallagher (seated) and Louise Smith (waiting