McIntosh Opera House
Kalispell Main Steet Historic District (Addendum and Boundary Increase)
The opening of this grand opera house, built by John McIntosh in 1896, confirmed Kalispell’s growing regional importance. Traveling theatrical groups brought elaborate scenery that transformed the second-floor theater. When one early performance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin drew a record crowd of 1,132, patrons stood on benches, in the gallery, and in the window sills. McIntosh’s hardware and Harvey Cannon’s gentlemen’s clothing stores were the original ground-floor businesses. Over the years McIntosh sold everything from tinware, stoves, pianos, and musical supplies to Studebaker buggies, cars, and tractors. The upstairs Opera House long served the community as meeting hall, school auditorium, gymnasium, and ballroom. For a time between 1905 and 1906, its hardwood floor became a splendid roller skating rink. A catastrophic fire in 1935 ended the building’s long service as a theater, but the sturdy survivor with its fine decorative brickwork remains one of Main Street’s largest and most prominenet fixtures.