CSPS set to reopen Friday - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

CSPS set to reopen Friday

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Sixteen months and seven million dollars later, the stage is set for the reopening of the Czech and Slovak Prudential Society building in Cedar Rapids.

The building, which opened in 1891 and flooded in 2008, is owned by Legion Arts, a non-profit dedicated to presenting contemporary art from around the world.

The historic CSPS hall is set to turn the page on a new era.

"It became clear to us that there was a role for this building to play in terms of supporting the arts and bringing people arts experiences," said John Herbert, co-director of Legion Arts.

Twelve feet of flood waters poured into the 120 year old structure in 2008.  Now, after almost a year and a half of restoration, the facility is back better than ever.

"In terms of comfort, safety, and accessibility, the improvements have been enormous, and as I say at the same time, sort of maintaining the historic character of the structure," Herbert said.

The building integrates some of the latest technology, additional performance and gallery spaces, and even, for the first time, air conditioning.

Cedar Rapids artist John Schwartzkopf will have some of his work on display in the new stairwell when the facility opens on Friday.  His work was made from materials salvaged from the flood.

"That's a fun part of it as well, having things recycled back through again," Schwartzkopf said.

Schwartzkopf says he's looking forward to attending shows and events again.  For many, the opening marks a critical step in bringing back the entire flood-ravaged New Bohemia district.

"I think of it as kind of the anchor for the area because it's the focal point for the events," Schwartzkopf said.

The restoration was funded by former governor Chet Culver's I-jobs program, as well as historic tax credits and other local contributions.

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