Theatre

Renovation of Holmes Theatre lobby to cost $332,000

Bids on the project were opened Tuesday, Oct. 13, with the contract going to the low bidder, T.F. Powers Construction of Fargo, at an overall cost of $342,700. The bid package included a base bid of $331,900, plus one $10,800 alternate for additional brick work that may or may not be necessary once an interior wall covering is removed.

The renovations are slated to begin Monday, Oct. 19. The bulk of the project will be funded through a $290,000 CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act grant from Becker County, which was approved last month. The terms of the federally-funded grant require that the project be directly related to COVID-19 safety improvements, and that the funds must be used up no later than Dec. 1.

Though some renovation of the theater lobby was always going to be needed to accommodate construction of the new, adjacent county museum, recent changes to theater operations required under state-mandated pandemic safety regulations necessitated a considerable expansion to those plans.

“Social distancing requires people to be able to spread out more when entering and exiting the theater,” explained Holmes Theatre Executive Director Amy Stoller Stearns, noting that the theater’s current layout is a bit cramped for accommodating those requirements.

For this reason, the boards of the Becker County Historical Society (which operates the museum) and the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center (the theater is part of the overall DLCCC complex) decided to apply for a $290,000 CARES grant from the county to assist with funding the project. The county board approved the application last month.

New plans were drawn up by the project’s main architects, YHR Partners, and the bid opening set for Tuesday afternoon at the museum’s current home on Summit Avenue (across the parking lot from the theater). Construction of the

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Emery Center renovation underway as The Children’s Theatre plots purchase of historic concert hall

CINCINNATI — Construction on The Emery Center, one of downtown Cincinnati’s most historic buildings, could start in 2021. The Emery Center, which sits on Central Parkway between Walnut and Clay Streets, is currently made up of 59 apartments, Coffee Emporium, office space, and a long-dormant theater.

The apartments will be renovated in phases starting in January, but the theater’s $30 million renovation will take longer by up to the three and a half years, according to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.

“In real estate, we call it ‘bricks and mortar,’ said the building’s new co-owner, Chris Frutkin. “Well, there’s a lot of bricks and mortar in this building. It just goes on and on and on, [there are] whole rooms we had no idea existed.”

Emery Theatre from stage

Terry Helmer

The Emery Theatre will require about $30 million in renovations before it becomes the home of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.

Frutkin, of City Center Properties, and longtime developer Dave Neyer bought the historic building in 2019 for $8.55 million. They bought the building from the University of Cincinnati, which had owned it since 1969.

Original, handwritten building drawings came with the purchase of the Emery. The building was designed by Samuel Hannaford, the artist who designed and built both Music Hall and Cincinnati City Hall.

“These are ink on Irish linen and incredible works of art on their own,” Frutkin said. They now live in his office several blocks away on Main Street.

Emery Theatre drawings

Chris Frutkin

Original Samuel Hannaford drawings of the Emery Theatre. Provided.

The Emery Center was build in 1911 as the Ohio Mechanics Institute, a trade school that would eventually merge into UC’s applied science and engineering college.

The crown jewel of the building was the ‘acoustically pure’ theater built to house the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

“Mary Emery allegedly said

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