'All-In, All-School Fund Drive' exceeds goal

Photo of Ellendale Opera House on Main Street, circa 1910-1920. Image restored and enhanced by Kevin Kendall.

Second year that donors maximized matching dollars

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Thanks to a flurry of year-end donations, the Ellendale Opera House "All-In, All-School Fund Drive" exceeded its goal, raising more than $84,000 – $14,000 more than the fund drive goal – for restoration work on the historic Main Street landmark.

The fund drive this year provided a dollar-for-dollar match for contributions from existing donors up to a total of $20,000, and a two-for-one match for contributions from new donors up to a total of $10,000.

During the final two months of the fund drive, anonymous supporters expanded the double-match incentive to apply to any contributions from new or existing donors.

A total of $44,532 was donated by new and existing donors. With the matching funds, the Ellendale Opera House will receive a total of $84,532 for the ongoing building renovation work.

Because of the success of fund drives in recent years, the opera house has been able to make significant investments to bring the 114-year-old building back to full use by the community.

Those improvements include:

• During 2019-2020, the west half of the north wall was rebuilt with the help of a $150,000 loan and $50,000 grant from U.S.D.A. Rural Development.

• During 2021, a new ADA-compliant rear entrance and parking area were completed with the help of a $10,000 matching grant from North Dakota Tourism. The building gutters and downspouts were rebuilt last year to provide better drainage of rainfall runoff.

• A comprehensive electrical upgrade planned for 2022 was delayed by supply chain issues affecting delivery of needed electrical equipment. The $60,000 project is now scheduled for completion this year.

O.P.E.R.A., Inc. – the non-profit charitable organization that operates the opera house – recently was awarded a matching $25,000 grant from the North Dakota State Historical Society. That grant will help fund repairs to the west foundation and replacement of the sidewalk along the west side of the building.

O.P.E.R.A. was formed in 1992 to save the building from the wrecking ball. A six-member volunteer board oversees the opera house operation.

In late 2018, O.P.E.R.A. began its "Building Our Future and Preserving Our Past" capital campaign to attract significant contributions needed to bring the building back to life. A fund drive is held each year to raise money for the needed capital improvements.

Last year, the group raised just over $78,000 during its "Next Step" fund drive.

The name of this year's fund drive refers to the Ellendale High School All-School Reunion held last July.

To contribute to O.P.E.R.A.mail your donation to P.O. Box 334, Ellendale, ND 58436, or click on the "donate" button at the top of the page.

Because O.P.E.R.A. is a charitable non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

All donors will have their names listed on a display in the Opera House Lobby & Gallery.

Donations can be made to honor other individuals or family members and have those names listed on the donor display.

For additional information or to volunteer to help O.P.E.R.A., call 701-535-0347 or email jmmeid@hotmail.com.