Some gorgeous, historic buildings were built to inspire commerce, some for pride – to show prosperity or power. However, this one was built for love. This amazing building, built in 1916 began romantically as an Opera Palace. When Doctor William Bessessen fell in love with the beautiful, internationally acclaimed opera singer, Miss Beatrice Gjersten, he spared no expense to create this stately structure with classic charm to showcase her talents.
Beatrice Bessessen taught acting and vocal lessons in the conservatory on the second floor and performed in the theater. The building has since been home to the Rivoli movie theater, a tea house, YWCA club rooms and apartments. Currently, it houses the studio of local artist Susanne Crane, as well as other tenants.
The Historic Bessessen Building, located at 224 South Broadway in Albert Lea, Minnesota, is a National Historic Landmark, and a contributing property in the National Registered Historic District. It was designed by Van Kirk and Cedarberg, Saint Paul architects, in the French Renaissance style.
Restoring a building of this size requires a serious commitment. Its an optimistic venture considering present economic conditions. It requires an eye on the future. For America to have a rich architectural and cultural history in the future we really have to make an effort now.
We are determined to succeed. Our building has inspired many. We know it could inspire many more. We need your help to get it done.