OAKLEY — The Oakley Valley Arts Council has raised $60,000 through grants and donations to fix the sagging ceiling at Howells Opera House.
“People in the community have really stepped up to help,” said OVAC board member Jan Davis.
OVAC is a non-profit organization.
But officials fear more money will be needed to complete the repairs, Davis said.
OVAC temporarily closed the theater for safety reasons in November after one of the young actors pointed out how the ceiling was sagging.
“The price for repairs keeps going up and we’re pretty sure we’re going to need more funding,” Davis said. “We try to stay optimistic.”
The group received a matching grant of $12,000 from the Idaho Heritage Trust and $2,500 from Idaho Power. They have also submitted a few other grant applications, but they do not yet know if they will receive any funds from them.
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Structural engineers and contractors have examined the ceiling, and the organization is also working with a historic architect.
A construction crew will need to remove the roof, rafters, trusses and insulation and install new trusses, then attach the original ceiling to it and insulate it, Davis said.
The 1907 curved sheet metal ceiling will need to be shored up to preserve it during repairs.
“It’s going to be a big project,” Davis said.
The decorative ceiling provides excellent acoustics for the theater.
The next stage of the project will be the historical architect who will write the plans, then the group will have to get a contractor to commit to the project.
“A lot of contractors are very busy right now and supply is always an issue,” Davis said.
Davis said council heard the trusses were repaired in the 1980s.
“Old buildings need ongoing maintenance,” Davis said. “Some people may wonder if it’s worth it, but it’s part of Oakley’s history.”
OVAC board member John Paskett, who has been very active in the performance hall, said the board had discussed having a production this summer at an outdoor venue or at school. primary.
“It really stopped us in our tracks,” Davis said of having to shut down all productions.
Paskett said the theater is important to the community because of its historical significance, but also because of how it brings the wider community together.
During productions, he said, there are often visitors from California and Utah. A group of senior citizens from Gooding often take a bus to Oakley to attend the plays.
“We really miss having the productions a lot,” he said.
Donations can be mailed to: Oakley Valley Arts Council, PO Box 176, Oakley, ID, 83346.
People can donate through GoFundMe at gofund.me/611991c7.