Mike and Marcia Graves, Kooskia ID   (current owners)

To All The Friends and Supporters of the Old Opera House Theatre in Kooskia Idaho

We, the present owners of this wonderful old theatre, wish to share some of our special memories with all of you that have never been to this theatre and all of you that have been to many of our productions that we have had since 1994.

 First of all, Mike’s great grandfather helped build this building in 1912 and the top floor was used as a theatre and the ground floor was used for a hardware store. The theatre in the early days was used for many purposes. It served for plays, vaudeville acts, high school graduations, dances, political debates, boys and girls basketball games, silent movies, and much more. Mike’s great grandfather used the theatre for a mortuary in the 30’s temporarily until he built the local funeral home. In the 50’s the town high school burned and the theatre was used for classrooms. The stage was boarded over for storage. During the next 40 years the theatre was used for storage for the downstairs hardware business.

We decided to clean out the upstairs and use it for office spaces. It was then that we discovered the boarded up wall and found the beautiful old stage still in tact. Our son and Mike got the great idea to put it back into a theatre once again to help our town of Kooskia and the surrounding areas with arts and culture. With a lot of cleaning and painting and lots of family and friends help and the support of the community, we were able to restore the theatre.  Our first musical was Oklahoma which was a major success to be followed by many more.  People came from near and far as word got out about the wonderful local talent and quality of the shows that were being presented at the Opera House. We did the theatre in a Victorian theme and local artist and renowned muralist, the late Robert Thomas, volunteered his talent to painting the interior walls.  Many talented people from the local area have been able to perform on the Opera House stage to delighted audiences.  We have seen some of our local youth grow into talented performers. Our Laurie from the Okalahoma musical went on to be Miss Idaho and ran for Miss America. She is currently employed with Disney corp.  We also have a young country singer making his way in Nashville, who got his start on the Opera House stage. Many other youth have made many memories on the stage of the Opera House and gained allot of self confidence.   The theatre has great acoustics and wonderful ambiance to all that perform and attend the shows and has been a great blessing to this area.

 Last summer our lease holder of the main floor moved his hardware business to another town, which is why we decided to sell the theatre and building. Due to our other business interests, we cannot devote as much time to the theatre as we wish to, and hope to find someone that can. Our wishes has been for someone to keep the theatre going and put a hardware business back downstairs for the good of the community. After talking to our realtor, our fear is that someone could buy the building and take out the theatre which would really be a blow to the local area entertainment and arts. We hope someone will want to carry on this dream. This is a wonderful community to live in and raise a family or retire. Our local Chamber of Commerce is currently seeking interested parties to purchase the building to keep it a theatre, with the main floor being used for rental or other business income.

                                                                       Sincerely Mike and Marcia Graves

A personal note of gratitude...

I would like to personally thank Mike and Marcia Graves for rescuing the Kooskia Opera House back in 1994 with the dedicated support and effort of the entire community.  By wishing to contribute to Kooskia's cultural future, you have also provided a critical preservation of its past. On behalf of the Lee Morse community, my gratitude for this service can never be fully expressed.

Ian House

NOTE: Thanks for the clarification... One of the "Kooskia Mountaineer" articles that I found in Boise mentioned that Lee was the manager of the girl's basketball team! I assumed that they played in a gymnasium downstairs but now I know that the games were played upstairs in the theatre. INCREDIBLE :-)

_ _ _

If you have an interest in contacting the Graves in regard to the purchase of the opera house and the continued preservation of it as an active performance venue, you can contact me at:


I will make sure that they receive your email.


Greg H. , Moscow ID (from the Dismuke.org message board)

As a fan of Lee Morse and an Idahonian, I would like to appeal to the Kooskia Chamber of Commerce to make every effort to save the Kooskia Opera House as an operating performance venue. Small towns sometimes lose track of their heritage and once it is gone it can never be brought back. So much of our history is wrapped up in local performance venues - musical concerts & theater bring joy and memories that can last a lifetime. Kooskia is lucky to still have what may be the earliest still surviving venue where Lee Morse performed. I'm sure that many other wonderful performances have taken place on that stage as well. Please preserve such an important part of your history so that Lee Morse fans and others may be able to experience live music & theater on the very stage that Lee and so many others graced through the years. By the way, last years tribute to Lee was wonderful! I'm hoping for an even better tribute this year and will do my part to spread the word in the Moscow area.


Eddie The Collector, Waco TX (from the Dismuke.org message board)

I support these efforts and since I am not qualified to add anything to the above comments, (from Greg H.) I'll gladly "second" them! We have our own theater/former vaudeville house here in Waco known as the Hippodrome, and it is a genuine boon to the city. Any efforts that go into preserving such an establishment are well worth the time and energy, not to mention money.

Lisa Jones -address not provided -  (from LeeMorse.com)

To whom it may concern:

I am writing today in support of the preservation of the historic Kooskia opera house, home of the world-renowned vocalist Lee Morse. Not only is this building an important part of your past, it's part
of your future: as someone who has worked in the arts for many years, I can say that venues like this can be the heart and center
of any vital community. In sum, I'm sure not only music lovers, but your entire city will benefit more from preservation than

Lisa Jones.


Tony Welch, Oregon City OR  (from LeeMorse.com)

The preservation of the Kooskia Opera House seems an altogether worthy endeavor.  With the passage of five more years, this fine old brick structure will have shrugged off a century's worth of snowfalls, cloudbursts, roosting pigeons and  tax collectors -- and Lord knows what else -- just so the show could go on.

As surely as the nearby Clearwater River and its natural environs thrill and delight natives and visitors alike, the Kooskia Opera House is also a source of sights and sounds worthy of our protection.

So...let the footlights dim.  But not go out.


Tony Welch
Oregon City, OR


Bud Black -address not provided -  (from LeeMorse.com)

I am imploring you to preserve the structure formerly called the Kooskia Opera House.  This structure is very close to the hearts of the many fans of Lee Morse, because it was on the stage of this theater that this delightful songbird made her initial appearances.  I am sure that somewhere in the dark recess of the interior her sweet echo is still singing.  Please don't silence it.

Bud Black


Ed Slonina -address not provided -  (from LeeMorse.com)

I think that the opera house should be saved.  Its
historical value alone is enough reason, but given
that Lee Morse performed there in her early career,that makes its preservation doubly justified.

Chuck Prince, Spenceport NY   (from LeeMorse.com)

If your looking for fans of Lee Morse..............I think I'd qualifiy, I visited Lee's gravesite on Christmas day and listened to her cd  yesterday. I hope this helps, it seems such a shame that the opera house could be sold to someone for something other that it's original use.

Jeremy Cairns, Seattle WA   (from LeeMorse.com)

As a performer myself who grew up in a very small town in backwoods British Columbia, I know the value of our local theater, what it brought to the community, and to my life personally.  I am also a big Lee Morse fan and have turned many of my friends on to how unique and innovative she really was.  It is people like Lee Morse that make historic places what they are and the reason why they need to be preserved, not only for her, but also the historical identity of your town.  If the Kooskia Opera House is still open this summer, I’m close enough; I think I’ll drive on by for a few days.  I need to get out of the crazy city and do some fishing.  I figure why not do it where one of my musical favorites did it.

James V. Carmichael, Jr , Greensboro NC  (from LeeMorse.com)

As a dedicated fan of jazz and blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s, I wish to add my voice to those who wish to save the Kooskia Opera House in its present or a suitably modified state for commercial use.  Such a plan was adopted for the Thalian Hall in Wilmington, NC, an 1850s structure which was taken over by theatre owner Ford of Ford's Theatre after Abraham Lincoln was shot: entertainers who subsequently appeared there included Oscar Wilde, Lillian Russell, Joseph Jefferson, Madame Modjeska, and Edwin Booth.  The expanded Thalian now serves successfully as City Hall and continues to operate successfully for travelling and local theatre, and concerts.  Wilmington's recent emergence as a southern film and theatre capitol underlines the perspicacity to have adapted the building for use while preserving the architectural integrity of the theatre.  It should be noted, however, that valuing the history of the theatre provided the motivation for preserving it,.  I would hope that the Kooskia Opera House would stir local memory whether or not anyone there now remembers singer Lee Morse; among cognoscenti, she has been resurrected on disc through the efforts of Ian House, and she has a sizable following in the US and Europe.  The donation of her manuscripts to The University of Idaho Collections will only add to her importance in future years. Please make every effort to preserve the building, and only success will follow. If you need other examples of preserved municipal theatres that have served as a locus for theatrical and entertainment events and the raising of local thespian and musical consciousness, see The Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina and The Carolina Theatre in Greensboro, North Carolina.

James V. Carmichael, Jr.
Department of Library and Information Studies
School of Education,
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina

Jack Norton -address not provided -  (from LeeMorse.com)

To whom it may concern:
I am a big fan of Miss. Lee Morse and her music, I am also a big fan of preserving America's rich cultural heritage. My reason for writing, is to implore you to "save the Opera House"! As a musician myself, I can't tell you what joy I feel performing in spaces that have a history...to stand on the same stage where my heroes once stood! There is a small opera house in Minnesota that I regularly play at which the community "saved" - the very opera house where Gene Autry once rode his horse out on to the stage!
What a thrill to sing "Back In The Saddle Again" on that same stage!
Miss. Lee Morse is an American treasure, a one-of-a-kind performer and certainly one of the best song stylists I've ever heard - please consider preserving the opera house she called home.

As a twenty five year old musician, I can guarantee feature generations will thank you.

Jack Norton

Peter Guindon, Halifax, Nova Scotia  (from LeeMorse.com)


Several months ago, my fascination with Lee Morse lead me to make the journey from Vancouver to Kooskia, just to visit the town that helped to nurture such an unforgettable voice. As I suspected, it was a beautiful little town tucked away and sort of difficult to locate on the map I was using. At any rate, I imagine there must be others like me willing to go out of their way to discover the town where this often underrepresented but historically crucial voice in early jazz was raised. I hope the Opera House is still standing when I return.

-Peter Guindon
Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada

Robert Perkins -address not provided -  (from LeeMorse.com)

Dear Ladies and Gentelman of the Kooskia Chamber of Commerce and whom it may concern,

As a fan of Lee Morse let it be known I give my support in saving the Kooskia Opera House as it stands today and that all efforts should persist in perserving this historical landmark as an active theatrical venue for local talent and historical heritage.

Robert Perkins

Ann Rasmussen, San Francisco, CA   (from LeeMorse.com)

May 29, 2007 

I am writing this letter in support of saving the Old Opera House Theatre in Kooskia, Idaho. 

I first learned of the opera house through my interest in the singer Lee Morse. She is my favorite singer. More and more people are learning of her through the internet and with the re-issuing of her music. 

The recent 2-CD release on the British label, Jasmine Records demonstrates the growing international recognition of Kooskia’s Lee Morse.  She is an important song-stylist of early popular music. 

The Old Opera House is a historical landmark and represents a potential tourist attraction for the town of Kooskia. 

I live in San Francisco and I hope to visit Kooksia one day and visit this important site.  Is it possible for the City of Kooksia to buy the building and turn it into a museum?  

Heritage tourism can help attract visitors, boost local pride and foster economic development in rural areas like Kooksia. 

Please save this unique and important piece of architectural and cultural history before it is lost forever. 


Ann Rasmussen
Architecture Week

San Francisco, CA



Phill Greenland, New York City NY  (from LeeMorse.com)

Fellow Concerned Citizens,

Because I live in New York City, which is a "rip down" sort of town, I feel uniquely qualified to make a plea for the Kooskia Opera House. So many of our cultural institutions (especially those that have real local history and can be connected to a specific performer or producer) have been razed over over the years.

At one point, New York City had hundreds and hundreds of live theatres. Most are now gone, including many of the very important ones. Please allow the KOOSKIA OPERA HOUSE to stand as it is. I'm sure there is a group of concerned citizens that could create a plan to keep it going as a performing arts venue. And because I believe 
one should "put one's money where one's mouth is," I personally would be wiling to travel one of my small New York shows to the Opera House 
as a benefit.

Please don't tear down history. They ain't makin' anymore.

-A Concerned New Yorker

Dave Holmes, -address not provided -  (from LeeMorse.com)

To Whom it may concern:

Miss Lee Morse, who grew up in your community so very long ago, is a true American Talent that deserves to be remembered and endlessly appreciated. Hers is truly is a story of how someone can start out in a small rural town, and become known nationwide. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

I feel that it is very important that you keep The KOOSKIA OPERA HOUSE building alive and well; preferably as a performing arts building, but if nothing else, at least, as a shrine to the memory of Lena Taylor (Lee Morse). It is important to keep a sense of history, especially as modern culture seems to dispose of everything so rapidly.



Brad & Jean Manau, Lewiston, ID -  (from SaveTheOperaHouse.com)


My wife and I have bought several chairs at the Opera House.  We used to attend the "Melodramas" in the early days of operation while in Kooskia on vacation from California. 

Since then, we have moved to Idaho and currently reside in Lewiston.  We know Mike & Marcia Graves and are thankful to them for renovating and running the Opera House these past years.  It would be a shame for Kooskia and the Clearwater Valley to lose this wonderful asset.  I encourage anyone who can help retain and operate the Opera House to do so.  We will be making a donation in the near future and will solicit donations from our friends as well.


Brad & Jean Manau


Mary Jane Miles, Sells, AZ -  (from SaveTheOperaHouse.com)

I am a "native" Native American of Kooskia, Idaho.  I have been praying that your efforts to save the Kooskia Opera House will be successful.   However, I have never been to the opera house myself.  I lived across the street from the Trenary's and a few years back noticed that there was an opera house upstairs of their Hardware Store.  So, next time I am home I am going to visit there.   I am a Prresbyterian Minister here at the Tohono O'odam Indian Nation at Sells, Arizona.  I read the Tribune online and so keep current with what is happening in beautiful Idaho.  Blessings upon your call to preserve some history.  I enjoyed reading the news on your website and will continue to do so.    Shalom - Mary Jane Miles  (My folks were Allen and Lottie Moody)

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