Renovation Work Begins on Historic Downtown Theater
Stevens Point, WI - After several months of planning and completing approval processes, renovation work will soon begin on an iconic theater in the historic downtown.
STEVENS POINT, WI—After several months of planning and completing approval processes for the city and state, the Opera House LLC is excited to announce that renovation work will soon begin on the iconic Stevens Point Opera House.
The Opera House building, also well-known as the old “Fox Theater,” is located at 1124 Main Street and has been an architectural and cultural focal point of downtown Stevens Point since its construction in 1894.
In the coming months, Wildcard Worx, the project’s prime contractor, will begin to transform the building into a multi-purpose event space with new installations such as a catering kitchen, full service bar, a second floor ballroom, and an elevator—all while working to preserve the structure’s remaining historical features. Renovations are projected to be completed during 2022.
There will be several distinct phases of the redevelopment plan. Before major construction work begins, the building will undergo a structural analysis to confirm that the new renovation plans will be feasible, after which the interior will be stripped free of all deteriorated materials, and then interior updates will begin. Not only will the building be getting an aesthetic facelift, its internal workings will also be fully modernized with brand new plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC system and high speed internet cable installed throughout. The newly remodeled interior will include design elements that thoughtfully reflect the building’s architectural style and its history.
While the interior is being updated to accommodate modern needs, the front of the exterior will be restored to its original 1894 appearance. The Opera House LLC has obtained the original architectural sketches of the front facade, drafted by notable American Architect, Oscar Cobb, and has based its restoration plans off this design. The restoration will include the removal of the FOX marquee and the front entrances to the retail spaces on either side.
Erin Batzler, a member of the promotional team for the Opera House LLC, explained the motivation behind the rebranding is to help refocus attention on the unique history of the local community and the building's origins. “We want to take the Opera House back to its roots. For so much of its history the Opera House wasn’t just a theater, but a place of gathering at the center of the community. The last few decades have been a dark chapter in its existence, especially with the loss of the auditorium, but that doesn’t mean our community can’t continue to celebrate the legacy of this space, make the most of what remains.”
Since its beginning, the Opera House has been the host of many theatrical and community events, hosting public speeches, local charity and civic theater events, and productions by traveling dramatic companies. The Opera House LLC hopes to continue this legacy, operating as an event venue and working in collaboration with local vendors to provide catering, photography and other event related services.
“We’re not just preserving a building, we’ll also be contributing to the commercial industry and vibrant community life of our downtown,” describes Joe Schoenberg, interim Commercial Program Manager for the Opera House LLC. “We hope the local community will continue to share our enthusiasm for the project as we begin to take actionable steps to renovate the building to make it functional and sustainable for many generations to come.”
Additionally, the Opera House lot has been restored to its original boundaries. The city agreed to include the purchase of the green space that was once a part of the original lot in the redevelopment agreement with the Opera House LLC. The redevelopment plan intends to turn the extra space into an outdoor gathering area styled after a traditional German beer garden. It will include seating, an outdoor stage, landscaping and public wifi access.
A 3D model of the proposed redevelopment project is available online for the public to view through Trimble Connect 3D Viewer at wildcardcorp.com/operahouse.