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Donate to Ellendale Opera House restoration

OPERA, Inc. – Organization of People in Ellendale for Restoration of the Arts – Sept. 20 announced plans to raise $560,000 to complete the renovation of street-level storefronts of the historic Ellendale Opera House to attract commercial tenants back to the key Main Street building.

The work would be the first phase of a multi-year plan to fully restore the landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


CLICK HERE to download the first phase of the Opera House renovation plan.



Initial solicitations began earlier this year have resulted in financial commitments of more than $150,000 toward the capital campaign, “Building Our Future & Preserving Our Past.”

In addition to the early financial pledges, discussions have begun with several local businesses and organizations about leasing storefront space in the building when renovation work is complete.

Planning for the first phase of renovation work and capital campaign have been under way for the past year.

OPERA hired an architect and structural engineer last fall to conduct an inspection and develop estimates for renovations needed to make the street-level space available for lease.

Total cost of the storefront improvements, along with new windows for the second and third floors, new sidewalks and landscaping, is estimated at $470,000. With engineering and architectural fees, the cost of the proposed project totals $560,000.

In the coming months, OPERA will be contacting businesses serving the Ellendale area to solicit financial support for the project. Current and former residents of the community also will be asked to contribute to the effort.

Once the street-level restoration is complete, the second phase of the building renovation will begin. That work would include restoration of the second and third floors, including the 800-seat auditorium.

OPERA was formed in 1992 to save the Opera House from the wrecking ball, and since then more than $275,000 has been raised by the organization to fund repairs to the building.

Back in 1909, Main Street businesses donated $40,000 – the equivalent today of $1 million when adjusted for inflation – to build the Opera House.

The purpose of the building – then and now – is to attract new retail and professional businesses to the community and provide a civic auditorium to accommodate public events, musical entertainment and theatrical performances.

Since OPERA was organized and assumed ownership of the building, the group has fixed the leaking roof and support system, repaired the building foundation, restored one of the street-level storefronts into a gallery and meeting space and added a serving kitchen on the ground floor.

The renovated first floor lobby/gallery has become a focal point for art, music and cultural events in the region, hosting an average of 26 shows, seminars, events and exhibits each year.

OPERA is a charitable non-profit 501(c)3 organization, making any contributions by individuals or corporations tax deductible to the extent allow by law. It is operated by a five-member volunteer board of directors with a paid part-time executive director.

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For more information, contact: Justin Meidinger - Phone: 701.535.0347 Executive Director, OPERA, Inc. - Email:

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