The annual St. James Opera House Restoration Project Meeting took place on Tuesday,February 19.
A look back at 2018 looked at the College St. James project. It was agreed that the building adds a lot to downtown, and the restoration of a beautiful building was a huge success.
The total cost of the project ran about $98,000. $60,000 was covered by a state grant, and the other $38,000 was covered from benefits, fund raisers, and donations. The Opera House Restoration Project has been receiving the state grants in installments, and is still waiting for the final $24,000.
The hope of the Opera House Restoration Project is that they can fully accommodate the needs of the two renters of the new building.
From there, the committee came up with goals for 2019. The focus seemed to return to the opera house itself, with the group thinking they would like to get better organized, come up with ways to get financing, and reach out to the New Ulm and Fairmont opera houses to see if any kind of future partnership can be formed.
With construction costs continually on the rise, it is estimated that a full restoration to the opera house would cost almost five million dollars. Even if a grant can be secured, it will need to be supplemented with some funds from the organization. Various fundraisers were discussed by the committee. They want people to realize that if they are able to complete the project, it will be used for many things. First and foremost, it would be an entertainment center, where they could bring in shows. But they could also rent the opera house for celebrations, and possible even political rallies.
The project decided to keep their same officers for the next year, with Tom Eng serving as chair, Sue Sodeman serving as vice-chair, Joe McCabe serving as secretary, and Lorraine Behlmer serving as the treasurer.
The St. James Opera House Restoration Project sees the restoration of the opera house as a key part in revitalizing this part of the state. Businesses and the arts are both a key part in building any area. While there is still a long ways to go, seeing the completion of the College St. James can give a little taste of what a little restoration can do for a community.