A Destination for Culture, Art and Commerce

History


About Edward and Eva Warren...

Edward Earnest Warren was born in New London, Iowa on March 31, 1862. He was educated at the private New London Academy. In 1879 Edward moved to Greenfield and was employed by A.P. Stephens & Company for two years. He was then transferred to the company's store in Creston for two years. Mr Warren returned to Greenfield in 1883 as a partner under the firm's new name of "Fuller, Warren & Company". Edward, together with his brother F.C. Warren, purchased the business in 1886 and called it "Warren Brothers Company". In 1889 Edward became the sole owner of the business.

In 1884 Edward married Eva Mary Viers from Fontanelle, Iowa. Eva was born in Washington, Iowa, in 1863. The two began a life-long partnership.

The Warrens built their new store and opera house in 1896, in company with John J. Hetherington. Mr Hetherington was born in Pennsylvania in 1842. At the age of 38, John was a banker in Greenfield.

The idea of a building containing both a store and opera house was first announced in Greenfield in 1895. The building site was formerly occupied by the original courthouse which had burned down.

Mr Hetherington was simultaneously building his new store along side the EE Warren Opera House.

The building's store conducted its Grand Opening on December 1, 1896. The storefront windows had been curtained until opening ceremony. At 7:30pm the curtains were raised and the crowd rushed the door, breaking it from the force. A string quintet provided live music for visitors. Upstairs the Opera House was awaiting its chairs. In 1913 the business became titled "Warren Dry Goods Company". Eva worked as the company's bookkeeper.

Mr. Warren's Business Card


The Opera House is located on the southeast side of Greenfield's town square.

From the moment Ed and Eva Warren opened the doors of their new building in December 1896, the Opera House took its place as the “grand lady” of the Greenfield town square. With its expansive windows, oxidized copper accents, and distinctive turret, the three-story brick structure served as a landmark for culture and commerce. For decades the Opera House drew theatrical troupes, musical performers, and local acts. But as times changed, so did entertainment tastes. The last documented “professional” act was presented in 1930. After that, the theater hosted only occasional community events, such as graduations, dances, and basketball games. Though the ground floor continued to house retail businesses into the 1990s, by the late 1940s the theater space fell into complete disuse.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Efforts to restore it, however, did not begin in earnest until 1994, when it was given to Main Street Greenfield. In 2000 the EE Warren Opera House Association was formed to coordinate efforts and oversee what became a $6.2 million makeover.

Through the work of historical restoration experts, the auditorium and other rooms have been returned to their original grandeur. The Warren Cultural Center opened its doors in Spring 2012 and now serves as a multi-use facility, hosting meetings, receptions and overnight guests, as well as performances in its historic rooms. Ed & Eva’s retail store offers unique items from more than 100 different Iowa artists, and the gallery/lobby displays exhibits of art and photography.