STAPLES — The Batcher Block Opera house, built during the turn of the 20th Century is set to come alive through a partnership with The Staples Economic Development Authority along with local business and community leaders as part of the economic revival of the downtown area.

The 30,000 square foot building with original period details such as the mural and fresco work adorning the opera house proper was the crown jewel of performance spaces in Minnesota when it opened in 1907, with a national reputation for acoustical excellence.

The opera house closed its doors during the great depression and now the dire need to stage a large scale artistic preservation will ensure that this piece of Minnesota history is brought back to a vibrant life for the local community as well as tourist destination.

The city of Staples has announced an initiative toward a full restoration of the building to serve the community through public and private events as well as educational programs, art related events, tours and donations as a self-sustaining non-profit agency. The building will house, classrooms, office space, a catering kitchen, rooftop event space and the grand hall to host performances from regional and national artists, as well as community events such as weddings and performances from local musical and theater ensembles.

Batcher Block Opera House is considered one of the best preserved opera houses in Minnesota, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of only 13 opera houses of its kind in the United States.

The creation of a business plan was funded by Sourcewell and the city of Staples, which was created as part of the city’s application for the revitalization of the building to be considered for funding in the 2020 Minnesota Legislature Capital Projects budget. McClure Placemaking was awarded the contract for writing the business plan. Harmonious Architecture is overseeing the structural needs along with Norson Construction. Historical restoration has been awarded to Omforme Design for the intricate mural work within.

By offering over 300 events a year, the BBOH will reclaim its place as the “cultural and intellectual heart” of the city of community (National Register). In addition, the BBOH will act as an economic development engine not only for the Staples-Motley region but for the greater region and the state of Minnesota.

By attracting local, regional, and national audiences to the space, the BBOH will play an outsized role in the continued revitalization of downtown Staples through arts and culture, and it will help Staples attract and retain the next generation of workforce for whom cultural amenities is essential in deciding where to live, work, and play.

The Staples Economic Development Authority, Minnesota House Representative John Poston (R-09A), and the Batcher Block Opera House Steering Committee will be hosting an open house, complete with tour, of the BBOH in preparation for the 2020 Capital Projects budget negotiations.

The tour will take place Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. at the BBOH, located at 418 Second Ave. NE., Staples. For more information, contact Melissa Radermacher at (218) 894-2550 or mradermacher@ci.staples.mn.us

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