Phase I

The actual rehabilitation of the Greensboro Opera House is finally underway!

Phase I of the multi-phase restoration plan calls for rehabilitating the ground floor space immediately beneath the theater which was originally occupied by two retail stores, replacing the stairway which, before its removal in the 1960s, connected the theater and offices on the second and third floors with the sidewalk below, and, as far as is possible at this stage, restoring the lower facade.

This ground floor space will become  a multi-purpose cultural facility for use as an art gallery, a reception hall, and, until restoration of the theater itself is complete,  even as space for small scale performances in the round.  Architectural designs for Phase I were prepared by McLelland Architecture of Tuscaloosa in part with funds from a matching grant provided by the Alabama State Council of the Arts.

The original pressed tin ceilings will be restored and kept as will the plaster walls.  The floor could not be saved, but the new floor will be of hardwood in keeping with the original one.   Eight traditional chandeliers will hang from the ceiling, further recapturing the turn of the century atmosphere.  The stairway which originally descended from the second floor directly to the sidewalk will now descend instead to a glassed-in  lobby and will be an elegant three tier affair whose railings will be copied from the wooden railings which originally surrounded the stairwell on the second floor.  The original cast iron columns which have long been covered with cheap tin will again grace the façade at the ground level.  And, of course, the plans call for modern restrooms and heating and cooling located in the rear of the space.

While preliminary construction has begun, it is now in hiatus while additional funds are raised.  As is the case in virtually a construction projects, unforeseen contingencies arise, and this is even more likely when the project is one of historic renovation and even more likely when it involves a theater.  And so it has been with the Opera House.  The building code for theaters is much more stringent than it is for a private building (sprinkler systems, egress issues, etc.) and, of course, when construction actually begins on an existing building unsuspected structural problems come to light.  It was necessary, for example, to spend right at $70,000 of our reserve to deal with an asbestos problem we had thought to avoid, and structural issues with the façade have been discovered.


As it stands, the estimate for the Phase I rehabilitation is  $443,000, some of which has already been expended.

Our budget for Phase I rehabilitation:

Asbestos Abatement                                 $70,000

Construction Work*                                  170,500

Electrical Costs (materials & labor)          102,000

Heating and Air Conditioning Units           57,000

Plumbing (total package)                            43,500

Total                                 $443,000

The $70,000 for asbestos abatement and $25,000 in construction costs have already been paid, but we need to raise funds for the remainder and for $30,000 in matching funds for a Phase II architectural grant.   Although some of this may, we hope, come from grants, at least $200,000 of it needs to come from private donors.

Greensboro Opera House, Inc. is grateful for the wonderful support from the many individuals which enabled us to purchase the building and move forward thus far on its rehabilitation.  More detailed information on giving—donations and memberships—can be found elsewhere on the web site.

We once again urge you to contribute and make the dream of a rehabilitated Opera House a reality!  And when this is accomplished we will again celebrate with a gala for members and donors—right here in the Opera House!