Significant strides toward rejuvenation: $375,000 Nat'l. Endowment for the Humanities grant awarded!
LEAD, S.D. | More than three decades after a devastating fire torched one of the most iconic buildings in South Dakota, the Historic Homestake Opera House (HHOH) is returning to its original grandeur.
Bolstered by a $375,000 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) intended to generate $1.125 million in private donations, supporters and staff of the HHOH are identifying potential contributors to assist in funding infrastructure upgrades and advance the rehabilitation efforts at the historic building.
“The excitement is seeing the physical change in the theater, and that’s what’s most impressive to those who use this facility,” said HHOH Development Director Sarah Carlson. “We do what we can with what we have, and incrementally, we have been making significant changes and we’re seeing this work pay off. People are getting involved.” To date, the staff and volunteers of the HHOH organization have raised $135,000 toward the challenge grant, which will release $45,000 in NEH funding this year and giving the “Saving Space for the Humanities” project $180,000 to move forward with plans and actual construction, Carlson noted. “It’s our first large federal grant since 2003,” she said. “Because we’ve completed all the architectural and engineering studies to identify our needs and further our plan, we were able to show the NEH we are prepared to handle the rehabilitation work.”
The Homestake Opera House & Recreation Building was a visionary architectural and cultural gift to the City of Lead in 1914, when philanthropist and Homestake Mining Company owner Phoebe Hearst had it built for the community. For the next 70 years, it remained the “Jewel of the Black Hills,” featuring a 1,000-seat world-class theater, heated indoor swimming pool, library, shooting range, social hall, and bowling alley. Tragically, on April 2, 1984, a fire devastated the theater, and it sat empty for more than a decade. Restoration efforts began with the purchase of the building and the formation of the nonprofit HHOH Society in 1998. During the last 20 years, nearly $4 million has been raised and spent on restoration, renovations, programming, and operations. The 24,000-sq. ft. building is listed within the historic district of Lead, SD on the National Register of Historic Places, and is designated a National Landmark of American Music. The iconic structure currently hosts 40 dates annually dedicated to theatrical, musical, and educational programs and tours with 10,000 attendees participating per year.
“The HHOH continues to make progress, although much of this progress is not visual,” said Jay Jacobs, president of the HHOH board of directors. “We have been working with TSP Inc. to finalize a phased plan for restoration and rehabilitation of our building. There has been much thought and effort in constructing a plan to restore the historical elegance of our facility, yet ensure that we modernize to comply with ADA and safety standards while embracing current technology such as new sound system and lights. “It is extremely important to the board that we preserve our building’s historic grandeur, but also ensure our facility has utility -- a platform to continue to serve the community,” Jacobs added. To that end, Jacobs said the HHOH board has made great strides over the last 18 months in fundraising, planning and restoration efforts, hiring a part-time grant writer and securing the NEH grant. “This historic facility was created by early leaders of the Homestake Mine and Lead to give miners, merchants and their families a place to experience entertainment as well as gain knowledge and culture,” Jacobs explained. “Our building represents a significant example of what one does to develop and maintain culture within a community. It is why great cities or communities since the founding of Alexandria in Egypt and before have done such work. It is important to retain history.”
For those who knew the Homestake Theater, or “Rec” before the 1984 fire, the building remains a special place of memories instilled from swimming in the pool, reading in the library, or attending Saturday morning matinee movies in the theater, Jacobs said. In more recent times, those memories may have been fostered by attending the Black Hills Cowboy Christmas concerts and dance, the Festival of Trees, a wedding, a play, or a performance by the Red Willow Band, he said. “This building is also a place to learn music, visual arts, to act and receive applause, and listen to advances in science,” Jacobs said. “This programming is a greater root of our cause. The elegance of our history well deserves our efforts to restore the beauty of the Jewel of the Black Hills. And our ability to provide tours, programming and events are good for commerce in Lead and the surrounding area. The greatest benefit is having this place for our community to experience and enjoy. Our efforts to restore and rehabilitate our building under this lens is for preservation of history and allowing visitors an opportunity to create their own memories through the experiences we offer.”
Those experiences, as well as the recent NEH challenge grant, are causing advocates of the arts and supporters of the Homestake Opera House to reconnect with the facility and consider their own contribution to a place that has making memories for more than a century, according to Carlson. “This grant helps to instills confidence in us from individual donors,” Carlson said of the grant award. “Some of those people who have been loyal contributors to several of our completed projects are now seeing the fruits of their donations and, alternatively, there are people who have been attending our performances and presentations who understand more clearly the need for this to happen now, rather than where we were five years ago. We are ready for the next phase, and this challenge grant is helping us all move forward.”
Carlson noted that project’s most immediate challenge is raising nearly $400,000 in private donations between now and next July to take full advantage of the NEH grant. Prospective donors should understand that their contributions will receive a proportional match from the NEH and assist in the long-term advancement of restoration and programming activities at the famed facility, she said.
For more information, to make a gift, or to discuss a contribution, visit homestakeoperahouse.org or call 605-584-2067.
The Black Hills Area Community Foundation holds and endowment fund for the Homestake Opera House, which will ensure sustainability as we continue on our mission to enrich the community for generations to come.
If the HHOH raises $8,550 or more in new donations to our endowment fund at Black Hills Area Community Foundation, they will match $2,500.
Donations in a check form should include a memo line "Homestake Opera House" and be mailed to BHACF at 803 St. Joseph Street, Rapid City, SD 57701.
Questions? Please call BHACF staff 605-718-0112.
This fund is managed by Black Hills Area Community Foundation.
Join us for auditions for Gold Camp Players Adult Community Theatre Play.
(Parental advisory: Adult situations, comedy, language.)
AUDITIONS consist of cold reading from the script.
Director: Sierra Ward
Sunday, September 22 at 1:00 pm
Monday, September 23 at 5:00 pm
Auditions take place at the back entrance of the Homestake Opera House in the Smart Center Conference Room at 308 Julius Street, Lead, SD. 605-584-2067
Brighton Beach Memoirs is a semi-autobiographical comedy play by Neil Simon, American playwright and screenwriter widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and performed playwrights in the world.
Brighton Beach Memoirs is a play written for adult audiences, is a story of a writer as a young teen in 1937 living with his family in a crowded, lower middle-class Brooklyn walk-up. Eugene Jerome is the narrator and central character. Dreaming of baseball and girls, Eugene must cope with the mundane existence of his family life in Brooklyn: formidable mother, overworked father, and his worldly older brother Stanley. Throw into the mix his widowed Aunt Blanche, her two young (but rapidly aging) daughters and you have a recipe for hilarity, served up Simon-style. This bittersweet memoir evocatively captures the life of a struggling Jewish household where, as his father states "if you didn't have a problem, you wouldn't be living here."
”Brings a fresh glow to Broadway...In many respects his funniest, richest and consequently the most affecting of his plays." - New York Daily News
"There’s no romanticized gloss on the view of family life; the bonds are intense and unbreakable, yet they come through with all the wrinkles of real life." - Variety
"Hilarious comedy...His finest play...A delightful and enriching experience." - CBS-TV
EUGENE - almost 15
BLANCHE - 38
KATE JEROME - 40 year-old, Blanche's sister, Eugene's mother
LAURIE - 13
NORA - her sister, lovely at 16
STANLEY JEROME - 18
JACOB "JACK" JEROME - about 40, Eugene's father
For more information, contact the Historic Homestake Opera House office at 605-584-2067 or visit www.homestakeoperahouse.org.
Programming support is provided in part by the South Dakota Arts Council and the City of Lead.
Children's Play: No Body to Murder! by Edith Weiss
Auditions consist of reading from the script.
Auditions: Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6:00 pm and Sunday, Sept. 15 at 3:00 pm at the Homestake Opera House, 313 W. Main Street, Lead, SD.
Director: Lindsey Lothrop
Gold Camp Players Children's Theatre programming is sponsored by the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, and the Walt & Frances Green Charitable Trust; Support from the South Dakota Arts Council through the Dept. of Tourism; Adams Mastrovich Family Foundation; and the City of Lead.
"No Body to Murder" is a comedy that’s full of zany characters, hilarious stage action, and a surprise ending! Bad news — in the form of severe thunderstorms and an escaped convict — threatens the guests at the “Come on Inn”. By the end of the day, gung-ho aerobics instructor Billie Body is mysteriously murdered during a power outage. Was it the cook’s lemonade that poisoned her, or did someone else have a hand in Body’s death? Who would have the audacity to commit murder under so many noses? Inspector Black, on the scene in search of the escaped convict, has his job cut out for him. As the winds howl, suspicions rage — from Garth the gardener (who weeds with an axe) to an inept doctor on holiday from malpractice suits to a hairdresser who constantly changes her appearance — everyone has a hidden motive to want Billie Body dead. After all, she does have abs “to die for”!
No Body to Murder! is produced in cooperation with Pioneer Drama Service, Denver, CO.
by Yvonne Hollenbeck for the Tri-State Livestock News; 2017
When you gather a group of the finest musicians and vocalists in the tri-state area and present them on the stage of the beautiful Historic Homestake Opera House at Lead, South Dakota, the results are a presentation of one of the most outstanding Christmas programs of the season.
Under the co-direction of popular cowboy singer, Paul Larson and the executive director of the opera house, Sarah Carlson, this celebration has grown from the idea of hosting an old-fashioned concert and dance to what is now a “must see” event that was presented to a sold-out crowd of 1,000 attendees.
In addition to Paul Larson, the impressive lineup of entertainers included the internationally famous fiddle champ, Kenny Putnam, who now makes his home at Rapid City; star instrumentalist and former member of “A South Dakota Acoustic Christmas,” Boyd Bristow of Sioux Falls; singer/songwriter Jami Lynn of Rapid City; outstanding bassist and vocalist, Chet Murray, also of Rapid City; talented and versatile pianist, Connie Hubbard of Spearfish; cowboy singer, songwriter and poet, Robert “JingleBob” Dennis of Red Owl; Allen and Jill Kirkham, the award-winning singing duo from Custer; Clearfield ranchwife and poet, Yvonne Hollenbeck (myself); and adding her beautiful voice to the mix was co-anchor, Sarah Carlson. Chuck Larsen of Hulett, Wyoming very capably handled the emcee duties and added some of his cowboy poetry to the program. Following the evening performance, many folks enjoyed an old-time cowboy dance with music by the ever popular “Wilt Brothers Band” of Rapid City.
South Dakota is blessed to have a facility such as the Homestake Opera House, and a visit to this unique facility is an attraction that is second to none. In 1914, the building was constructed as a social and cultural center by philanthropist and owner of the Homestake Mining Company, Phoebe Hearst, following the death of her husband, mining magnate George Hearst (father to William Randolph Hearst). The elaborate building boasted a library, a 1,000 seat theater, and featured a heated indoor swimming pool, a billiards hall, six-lane bowling alley, smoking room, social hall and more. This magnificent building was literally the heart of hills until 1984, when the theater portion of the building was nearly destroyed by fire. After sitting empty for 11 years, plans began for renovation of the building with the addition of many modern amenities and it is now home to a first class theatre program providing musicals, adult comedy plays and children’s shows year-round. An ongoing and successful fundraising program has made it possible for the continuation of restoration and improvements, which includes the new Interpretive Center exhibit that opened in May, 2016.
The beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota is indisputably one of the top vacation destinations in America, and a trip to that area would not be complete without a visit to the historic Homestake Opera House, better known as the “Jewel of the Black Hills,” or attending one of the many first-class productions in this beautiful facility including the annual Black Hills Cowboy Christmas concert and dance. For a list of upcoming events, visit http://www.HomestakeOperaHouse.org or call 605-584-2067 for ticket information or to schedule an official tour of the whole building, including the interpretive center and the swimming pool.
Jason Erickson, member of the Homestake Opera House and the unbelievably enthusiastic youth team from Celebration Methodist Church in Brandon, SD visited the Black Hills right before summer hit and spent 4 hours in the building... they swept, dusted, moved a ton of chairs, climbed ladders, toured, laughed, sweated, and shared their life experiences with us. THANK YOU so much for being so generous with your gifts of time and talent. http://www.celebrationbrandon.org/
TOP: Jason Erickson (on the ladder) and another volunteer of he Celebration Methodist Church in Brandon, SD pose while in the basement office section of the Homestake Opera House. Lots of woodwork to dust!
ABOVE: Phelan Scherer and his dad, HHOH board member Dave Scherer, pose with the posse of building/cleaning volunteers who visited from Celebration Church in Brandon, SD.
It's the 10th year of the Black Hills Cowboy Christmas Concerts & Dance
– one of the area’s most highly anticipated events of the year.
Nearly 1,500 guests travel from across the region
to enjoy 15 award-winning musicians, singers, and storytellers
from SD, WY, and MT.
The lineup for the concerts and dance is always packed with talent and new additions to each annual show.
This year’s award-winning performer lineup includes:
Paul Larson, co-organizer and cowboy musician of Rochford, SD
Kenny Putnam, South Dakota fiddler champion, Rapid City, SD
Boyd Bristow, singer/guitarist/songwriter of Sioux Falls, SD
Trinity Seely, singer/guitarist/songwriter of Cascade, MT
Jami Lynn, Black Hills singer/songwriter, Spearfish, SD
Chet Murray, singer/pianist/bassist of Rapid City, SD
Chuck Larsen, emcee and cowboy poet/comedian of Hulett, WY
Yvonne Hollenbeck, champion cowgirl poet of Clearfield, SD
Sarah Carlson, co-organizer and vocalist of Lead, SD
Dance: The Wilt Brothers Band of Rapid City, SD
Our stage is a sight to behold, filled with 30 majestic towering ponderosa pines and white aspens, plus performers and instruments –
including our Yamaha grand piano.
Tickets are available now for $35 to $50 each.
Saturday, Dec. 14 matinee at 2:00 pm.
Saturday, Dec. 14 evening show at 7:30 pm
with down-home country music dance by
The Wilt Brothers and members of the cast.
Sunday, Dec. 15 matinee show at 2:00 pm.
The event is sponsored by Coeur Wharf Mining; Ketel Thorstenson, LLC; First Gold Hotel & Casino; KEVN Black Hills Fox TV; Jim & Janice Clarkson; Black Hills Badlands Tourism Assoc.; and the SD Arts Council through the SD Department of Tourism and the National Endowment for the Arts.
All concerts are held at the Homestake Opera House,
313 W. Main St., in Lead.For more information, please visit www.HomestakeOperaHouse.org or call 605-584-2067.