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Renovated Maddock Opera House now center of activity

September 8, 2017
Eloise Ogden - Special to the Tribune , Pierce County Tribune

By Eloise Ogden

Special to the Tribune

MADDOCK - Several years ago, a group of people from near and far began the revival of the more than 100-year-old Harriman building in Maddock. Today the building houses the Maddock Opera House Association, Harriman's Coffee House, Harriman's Restaurant and The Bobcat Bar, and the city library.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
The L.W. Harriman Building as shown in 1910.

Last month a grand opening was held for the Maddock Opera House.

Restoration of the building took many hours of hard work.

The 1905-constructed Harriman Building located on Maddock's Main Street is home to the Maddock Opera House Association, a North Dakota nonprofit corporation, according to Gregg Davidson, association board member.

Fact Box

About the first floor businesses

Restaurant & The Bobcat Bar

Operator Jim Walter, originally from Bismarck and owned and operated JW's restaurant in Harvey for many of years, has 40-plus years in the restaurant business.

"We try lots of different things with our menu. Our staff is a close-knit group that gets along well to serve our valued customers," said Walter. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bar is open Monday through Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The staff includes 23 full and part-time employees.

There's a full home-cooked breakfast and lunch menu and the supper menu includes pastas, steaks, seafood and legendary chicken.

Harriman's Coffee House

Sixteen local women known as the "Coffee House Brigade" operate the coffee house.

"We are a gathering place for daily conversation. Coffee and friends make the perfect blend," said Carol Backstrom and Karen Johnson, co-managers.

The coffee house is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m.

Each volunteer works 1 1/2 to two days per month.

The menu includes coffees, specialty coffees, blended iced beverages, muffins, bars and caramel rolls.

Maddock Community Library

The Maddock Library Board operates the community library Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The staff includes the library director and volunteers.

"Our mission statement is simply 'Lifelong Learning.' Our goal is to provide a welcoming atmosphere," said Priscilla "Perky" Backstrom, library director.

The library's programs include weekly storytime, summer reading and community speakers and authors for adult education.

"The association is owned by its 160 members from near and far who have unselfishly given of their time, funds and labor," said Davidson.

The building was named for L.W. Harriman, a local businessman. Over the years, the building has housed a number of businesses including a clothing store and a co-op store. More recently, it housed a hardware store. In its heyday, the upper floor was used for events including stage productions, vaudeville performances and as a gymnasium. People also roller skated there.

Eight years ago, in May 2009, the first meeting was held to brainstorm ideas for the 104-year-old Harriman Building, Davidson said.

The Maddock Opera House Association was created in September 2009 and the first renovation work began by covering the building's roof with plastic in November 2009. Other renovation work followed.

Two year later, in September 2011, the first performance was held "in the rough" by Merrill Piepkorn and the Radio Stars Band in the future second floor Opera House Ballroom, Davidson said.

Occupancy began on the first floor with Harriman's Coffee House opening in June 2013 followed by the Maddock Community Library opening in August 2013 and Harriman's Restaurant & The Bobcat Bar opening in October 2013.

Renovations were completed to the second floor Opera House Ballroom in 2016 and 2017.

The grand opening and building dedication was held on July 1, 2017.

Those involved in the project retained as many of the historical aspects of the building as they could, while still incorporating modern and required features. Some of the notable features include, according to Davidson:

- Grand staircase to second floor.

- Lobby at top of grand staircase.

- Elevator to second floor.

- Ballroom with original stage.

- Vaulted ceiling with original exposed wood truss beams.

- Twelve-foot walls with colors and trim from the early days.

- Solid oak hardwood floor.

- Elegant wall sconce lighting and vintage "Thomas Edison" overhead fixtures.

- Year-round climate control.

- Maximum capacity of 200 standing room only, 160 tables and chairs, 225 chairs only.

- Kitchen, restroom and stage restroom.

- Catering available from first floor Harriman's Restaurant & The Bobcat Bar.

To reserve the second floor Opera House for events or for more information call 701-739-7135

To finance the project to renovate the opera house, "It was a combination of grants, low interest loans and very generous donations," said Davidson, about the funding of the renovation project. He referred to a plaque showing appreciation to the "generous citizens of Maddock and those from near and far have unselfishly given of their time, funds and labor to bring the Dream of a full renovation to this, the Harriman Building, to realization."

"It's much bigger than any one person or any one board. This truly was a team effort by so many people," Davidson said.

Eloise Ogden is the Regional Editor for the Minot Daily News. Her email is



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