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Grant to aid ‘historical treasure’- Opera house seeking matching funds for $35,000 preservation grant

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News, Featured

Published on August 23, 2017 with No Comments

Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House has been allocated a $35,000 U.S. Department of Interior matching grant by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the opera house was constructed in 1893 to commemorate the veterans of the Civil War.

Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House has been allocated a $35,000 U.S. Department of Interior matching grant by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The goal of the grant-funded project is to hire an architectural and/or engineering firm to conduct a thorough conditions assessment of the building, and to create a project manual for future rehabilitation of the 125 year old historic structure.

This project has been funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Memorial Opera House as we are about to celebrate our 125th anniversary,” said Memorial Opera House Director Scot MacDonald.  “This grant will enable us to develop a comprehensive plan to repair and improve our historical treasure for decades to come.”

As noted in this inscription on the front wall of the opera house, the facility was built to honor the memory of those who fought in the American Civil War.

The Memorial Opera House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was constructed in 1893 to commemorate the veterans of the Civil War. With 364 seats, it is one of the largest community theatre venues in the county.

Over the years, the building has suffered some deterioration from water filtration and damage to both the exterior masonry and the interior plaster.  Other infrastructure challenges include the 120-year-old plumbing system and the electrical system in order for the building to be safe and fully functional, as well as the subflooring in the auditorium area which is beginning to buckle.

Valparaiso’s Memorial Opera House has been allocated a $35,000 U.S. Department of Interior matching grant by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the opera house was constructed in 1893 to commemorate the veterans of the Civil War.

“This is a huge step in our holistic approach to upgrade and maintain our county owned buildings,” said Porter County Commissioner Laura Blaney.  “The opera house is one of the most iconic historical structures in Porter County, and this grant will provide us with the blueprint we need to preserve it for future generations.”

The $35,000 matching fund requirement from the Opera House can be met through in-kind donations, operating funds, or public donations made to the Memorial Opera House Foundation.

“While we can allocate the match from our operating funds, that is money we use to produce our theatre productions and cover day to day costs,” said MacDonald.  “We are hoping that we can rely on the generosity of our incredibly supportive community to help us so that we can continue to maintain the high quality arts programs that are currently in place.”

This vestige from the opera house’s past shows a meeting schedule of military organizations. They include the GAR, Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union military personnel, and WRC, Women’s Relief Corps, the official women’s auxiliary of the GAR.

The opera house has been involved in several entertainment and education programs this year. In June and July, it opened a new youth theatre program, the LimeLight, with a focus on the education, confidence, and creative growth of local youth through hands-on theatrical experience.

In July, the opera house presented “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” More recently, the opera house teamed with Porter County History Museum for Rock the House 4, an outdoor street festival on Aug. 5.

Coming Friday, Sept. 8 to Memorial Opera House, Troy Webdell and the South Shore Orchestra welcome Spanish guitarist Isabel Martinez. She is traveling from her native Spain to perform the American premiere of Anton Garcia Abrilo’s Concierto Mudejar. Doors open for that show at 7 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. performance.  For more information and upcoming performance schedules, visit www.memorialoperahouse.com.

The opera house grant is one of four DNR grants recently awarded to strengthen and preserve Indiana’s history.

The grants total $165,672 in federal funds allotted by the DNR. They will be matched by $140,385 in local and private funds, for a total investment of $306,057.

Since 1974, the DNR has awarded more than $18 million to Indiana communities through the program.

 

Pullout:

Donations may be made by check, payable to the Memorial Opera House Foundation, a not for profit 501(c)3 corporation.  Checks should be mailed to the foundation, attention “Matching Funds” at 104 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso IN 46383.  For more information about donations, call Scot MacDonald, director, at 219-548-9137 or email smacdonald@memorialoperahouse.com

 

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