11.17.23  Current Update

Gary Jones Construction Crew were successful in placing new trusses, sheeting, and snow/ice shield on the 1907 Howells Opera House.  They also raised the ceiling and it looks great!  On October 11th they finished the project work.  They were excellent to work with.

Discussions with Idaho Heritage Trust gave GJC the scope to bring in materials and equipment to help with drainage issues around the building.  They sloped the area generally away from the building.  Thank You Gary Jones Construction Family for your generosity in donating the equipment, work, and time!

Page Brothers Construction began shingling the roof this week.

Next will be soffit, fascia, rain gutter, and down spouts.  Once rain gutters and downspouts are placed, additional surface drains will be installed to help push water away from the structure..  Last, insulation will be blown in the attic.

A shout out to the Idaho Heritage Trust!  They have helped throughout this project with monetary assistance and preservation.  A shout out to McCain Foods for their monetary assistance and continuing labor.  Thank You to both!  

After a good cleaning, some touch up work, and the re-installation of the seats; A Spring Opening (March 2024) will be coming with the classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest to the Howells Opera House.  We are excited!  More news to come soon.

Thank You South Central Idaho Community! 

Oakley Valley Arts Council appreciates the donations, grants, and the expert advice we have received. 

Donations are still needed and gladly accepted in any amount to this 501C (3) by mailing a check to:

Oakley Valley Arts Council, PO Box 176, Oakley, ID  83346



Please consider a donation to this non-profit 501 (c) 3.


8.10.23 Current Update:

Thank You to McCain Foods USA for removing the main floor auditorium seats!  McCain Foods USA and Gary Jones Construction teamed together and oversaw the insulation removal which is now done.  The next phase is to raise the ceiling.

The Idaho Heritage Trust Executive Director and Historical Architect visited the theatre and were very helpful.

Most of you have heard about the structural problems we are having with the
auditorium ceiling/roof structure at our Historic Howells Opera House.

We have enlisted help from the Idaho Heritage Trust, Engineering, and Myers-Anderson Architects, and Local Contractors.  Now that we have the Architect Plans and the suggested Scope of Work, there are four phases that we must accomplish before the Opera House can open.  Gary Jones Construction will be the contractor overseeing this project.

Our structural engineer asked, “How long do you want this theatre to continue
operating? ”  The Opera House has been used now for 115 years and we hope to
repair the failing roof structure to enable another 115 years of musicals, plays, and public events. 

We feel this is a priceless treasure for the Magic Valley.  It is on the National Register of Historical Places.  Since 1907, there have been thousands of actors and crews that have enjoyed sharing talents on the opera house stage.  Thousands of patrons have escaped from the world for an evening of entertainment finding joy in Howells Opera House.

We need to remove the old auditorium roof, rafters, trusses while preserving our classic, barrel curved, embossed acoustical tin ceiling in the auditorium.  New trusses, a new roof, reattachment of ceiling, and insulation will then be done.  The written estimated bid was $360,000.00 and it was just updated to $231,204.00 to finish the project due to lumber prices and teaming with McCain Foods USA.  It was found that the barrel ceiling can be left intact and lifted into place rather than having to maybe replace the ceiling.  After removing the insulation, the ceiling was in better shape than expected.  Good News!


Dear Friends –

Many of you have noted the absence of a fall production and Christmas Concert this year. Regrettably, due to structural problems in the auditorium ceiling, and out of an abundance of caution, the OVAC board feels it is unsafe to have audiences, cast, and crew in the building until these problems are rectified.

The decorative tin ceiling structure of the auditorium is unique. The 1907 curved design improves acoustics and helps the audience hear the performers. Unique structures were used to achieve the barrel shape of the ceiling. Over time, some of the trusses have suffered stress fractures, and caused the ceiling to sag in some areas.

With the assistance of the Idaho Heritage Trust, we have had the roof and ceiling evaluated by historical structural engineers. They have given recommendations for restoring the integrity of the roof and ceiling. Currently, we are contacting building contractors to implement those recommendations and make Howells Opera House safe for future productions.

It is the intention of the OVAC board to preserve and restore the building for the enjoyment of generations to come. All of this will come at some cost. The goal of preserving the historic structure, and promoting the arts in the area is funded through productions, concerts, and other means with the three yearly productions providing the bulk of the revenues. Without these productions it would be impossible to preserve the opera house and without a structurally safe building there can be no productions.

The board is seeking donations to pay for the restoration work. Our heartfelt thanks to those that heard about the need and have donated to the cause. We know many in the area appreciate the value of arts and entertainment in the community and enjoy attending performances, and participating in them. We encourage all to donate generously to preserve our Historic Howells Opera House, which is on the National Historic Places Register.

We have applied for a matching grant from the Idaho Heritage Trust, which helps with preservation and restoration of historic buildings in Idaho. OVAC is a nonprofit organization and pays for janitorial services during production. No one else is paid.

The board and Friends of OVAC donate their time and talents as a “labor of love”. Every dollar donated will go to the restoration of the theatre. Your gift will benefit generations to come. Help us again fill the opera house with music and laughter!  Hope to see you in 2022!

Send donations to:  Oakley Valley Arts Council, PO Box 176, Oakley, ID  83346