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Group seeks $560K renovation of Ellendale opera house

October 7, 2018

ELLENDALE, N.D. (AP) — A group is trying to raise $560,000 to complete renovations of a century-old opera house in southern North Dakota.

The Organization of People in Ellendale for Restoration of the Arts, or OPERA Inc., is seeking donations from businesses and residents for the Ellendale Opera House restoration project, Aberdeen American News reported.

“The opera house has provided a great number of cultural activities for the community,” said Greg Gackle, the campaign’s chairman.

OPERA Inc. formed about 25 years ago and bought the opera house from the city of Ellendale to save it from being demolished, Gackle said. The group has partially restored the building since then, with about $275,000 worth of upgrades made to the lobby, gallery, bathrooms and kitchen.

The group is proposing more renovations to restore the second and third floors, as well as the 800-seat auditorium.

OPERA Inc. first wants to complete all street-level storefronts, which would be leased to area businesses. The group has already fundraised more than $150,000 for the storefront renovation work, according to a press release.

The opera house still hosts art exhibits, galas, book signings, classes and weddings, even though it’s only partially restored, said Ken Schmeirer, who helps schedule events for the cultural center.

“It’s kind of a social center of the town,” he said.

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