Current Update:

Meetings were held at the Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce and at the Howells Opera House StageThank You Penne Main for letting us use a room and your encouragement!  Thank You to McCain Foods USA for being willing to help with this project and having representatives at both meetings and Cade Jones for attending in Heyburn.  Thank You to the OVAC Board and their efforts and the others that came with fund raising ideas.

We are hoping we will receive bids soon and are still accepting funds for this project.

 

August 9th & 10th:
Greetings Patrons, Contractors, Supporters and Friends-

Most of you have heard about the structural problems we are having with the
auditorium ceiling/roof structure at our Historic Howells Opera House.
There have been numerous rumors and opinions about the problems we have been facing, having closed down access to the Opera House since last August 2021.

We have since then been soliciting funding to enable the needed repair work and have raised almost $100,000 toward this effort. In its simplest form, we have enlisted help from Idaho Heritage Trust, local contractors, Frost Structural Engineering and Myers-Anderson Architects. We now have written plans and the suggested Scope of Work that needs to be accomplished so that we can reopen the Opera House.

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 and literally thousands of actors and patrons have enjoyed sharing time on our stage and in our auditorium.

With this in mind, we have decided to have 2 Public Meetings to explain the facts and the scope of the problems we are facing. We will show photos and drawings of the damage and suggested repairs, and respond to any questions. While it may look like a large project, in its simplest form, we need to remove and replace the old auditorium roof trusses and rafters, while preserving our classic, barrel curved, embossed tin ceiling in the auditorium.

At this point, we are seeking qualified, bonded contractors to help us make the repairs.  We are asking that any interested contractors, patrons, or individuals to please come to one of our public meetings: Tuesday August 9, 2022 from 6:00-7:00PM at the Chamber of Commerce Building in Heyburn, or Wednesday August 10, 2022 from 7:00-8:00PM at the Howells Opera House Stage.

We feel that if we put our heads together, we can come up with a way to bring the
Opera House back to life. We do appreciate and express gratitude for the donations we have received thus far and for the expert advice we have received from local contractors.

Sincerely,
Oakley Valley Arts Council

 

FEBRUARY 2022:  With the growth of this project, we continue to seek grants and donations to be able to restore and preserve the ceiling.

We appreciate all those who were so generous to help save the beloved Howells Opera House!  We have received a matching grant from the Idaho Heritage Trust for $12,000.00 that is payable upon completion of the project.

Donations are gladly accepted in any amount by mailing a check to:

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

or

by going to the GoFundMe link-  https://gofund.me/611991c7

The dollar amount needed has grown.

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

After visiting with the historical engineer and two area contractors, and having all three agree that the best fix would be to remove the roof, rafters, trusses, insulation and replace with new trusses, attach original ceiling to the new trusses, and insulate.  A historical architect firm has recently completed the drafting plans.  Next, an available contractor/contractors that can add us to their list and secure trusses/lumber etc.

ORIGINAL NOTE: 

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