For over 100 years, the land bounded by 4th and Jefferson, 5th and Scott Streets has been an arts block. It started with the 890-seat Grand Opera House built in 1899, located at the site of today’s Grand Theater. The Grand Opera House could accommodate productions large and small, making Wausau a stop on the theatrical circuit. In the first few decades of the 20th Century, acting troupes and musicians would ride the rails from performance to performance with their sets, props, costumes and instruments traveling with them. When they came to Wausau, they all played at the Grand Opera House.
The original Grand Opera House was razed on April 19, 1927. Seven months to the day, on Thanksgiving Day, the new 1470-seat Grand Theater opened. The theater, with its classic revival styling, stood as a symbol of excellence for the community. Ever since the opening day in 1927, the passion of drama, the grace of dance, and the power of music have come alive within the walls of the Grand Theater.
In 1987, after a decade of planning, spearheaded by the board of the Grand Theater Foundation and community leaders, a $2.2 million project restored the Grand Theater’s original luster and upgraded technical systems for the big sound and bright lights required by touring shows. Since that time the Performing Arts Foundation has managed the Grand Theater and has enlivened the stage with music, theater and dance from around the world, for family, adult and student audiences.
In 2002 the community once again stepped up to expand the walls of the Grand Theater to become Artsblock. The $13.2 million dollar project rededicated the facility to the glory of performance and energized not just the city of Wausau, but also, the entire region.
Today, The Grand Theater is a cornerstone of downtown, and a true community gathering place. With over 300 events per year, and serving a 17-county region, The Grand is the home for the best in the arts in North Central Wisconsin.