Clayton County opera house restoration - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Clayton County opera house restoration

VOLGA (KWWL) -- Volunteers are working to save a Clayton County opera house, built in 1914.

When the Volga River flooded in 1999, the Volga Opera House found several feet of water in its basement. Two years later, the old building's roof began to leak. After that, the building fell into the hands of mother nature.

"The flood flooded the basement, obviously, but with that roof leaking, it did more damage throughout that whole building than what the flood did," restoration organizer Tom Lott said.

He, fellow Volga native Tom Klingman and a team of volunteers are restoring the nearly 100-year-old opera house to its former state of glory.

Throughout the course of its hey day, the Volga Opera House has been a performance venue, a reception hall, a restaurant and a meat locker.

The theater could hold nearly 250 people, Lott said, which is about the current population of the town.

A benefit brunch Sunday at the Volga City Fire Department raised money for building materials. Manual labor comes from volunteers.

Lott said he hopes for an economic restoration, too.

"It will help bring money back into Volga," he said. "It will definitely put Volga back on the map for people to not just drive by anymore."

Klingman's parents owned the Opera House while he was growing up. He recalls playing tag with friends in the balcony as a kid and, later, working there.

'For a lot of people, the opera house was great events," he said. "A fun time to come see dinner theater or the barber shoppers or live music."

"I would just like it to be used again," Lott said.

After more than 400 people came to the benefit (in a town with only 250 residents), it's clear Lott and Klingman aren't alone in believing the show must go on.

The men hope to re-open the community space in August of 2013.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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